On Wednesday night, Nicole Anderson of Montgomery got to see, first-hand, just how much her community cares about her.
Nicole, still reeling from the shock of losing her 4-year-old daughter Kylie Arnold to brain cancer and pneumonia the week before, made an appearance at Culver’s in Oswego, where a pair of Oswego schools had organized a benefit for her and her family.
And as she looked around at the hundreds of people there, many of whom she did not know, she realized what a caring place she lives in. She said she had no idea so many people would come out to lend a hand.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said. “Overwhelming, but awesome.”
For the entire day Wednesday, Culver’s on Route 34 put aside 10 percent of all proceeds to donate to Nicole and her family. And by early evening, the place was packed – people stood in long lines at every register, all the seats were filled, and cars jammed the drive-thru lane.
There were so many people, according to Principal Kevin Lipke, that at one point near 6 p.m., the Culver’s staff simply had to stop taking new orders, so they could keep up with the ones already in. Lipke was one of several volunteers from Long Beach, where Kylie Arnold’s brother Devin attends as a third grader, and he served food to customers with a smile.
“It’s amazing to see so many people come out,” Lipke said.
Wednesday was Long Beach Elementary’s monthly Culver’s night, and the money raised usually goes to help the Home and School group. But that group agreed to give all the proceeds to Kylie's family this time.
In total, Culver’s will donate just over $1,000, according to Long Beach officials. Combine that with donations taken in through fundraisers over the past week at Long Beach and Brokaw Early Learning Center, where Kylie attended, and the family will receive just shy of $3,000 to put toward funeral costs and other expenses.
At Long Beach, students in Devin Arnold’s class came up with a trio of fundraisers, held on three separate days. On Feb. 29, students and staff paid $1 each to wear pajamas during the school day. On March 2, they each paid $1 to wear crazy hats all day. And on Monday, they paid $1 each to enjoy an ice cream treat after lunch.
All told, Long Beach Elementary raised about $1,600. Nicole said the fundraisers the students chose were fitting ones.
“Pajamas, hats and ice cream, that fits Kylie perfectly,” she said.
And a fundraising drive at Brokaw brought in an additional $250, according to Principal Jeff Modaff. In total, the family will get roughly $2,850 from the school fundraisers.
That generosity doesn’t surprise Lipke, who summed up his feelings while looking out over the crowded Culver’s on Wednesday night: “This community’s amazing,” he said.
If you would like to donate directly to the family, you can send checks to Earthmover Credit Union, 1008 N. Bridge St., Yorkville, IL 60560. Make checks payable to Kylie Arnold.