A community showed up when no one else did.

Birthday parties are a HUGE deal for kids. They love everything about them: the balloons, the games, the cake, the gifts, but most of all, getting together with their friends.

They start counting down the days to their party literally MONTHS in advance. And 5-year-old Willa is no exception.

She couldn’t wait to celebrate her birthday, surrounded by her classmates and friends. Only there was only one problem, no one showed up. Not one single solitary person.

And that sound you hear? Is our collective mama hearts breaking.

Heartbroken Mom Turns to Her Community Facebook Group for Help

Willa’s mom, Lex Fitzgerald, wanted to give her daughter a 5th birthday party to remember. She invited her entire class along with other friends, but only about 30 percent RSVP’d “yes.” Still, it was enough to make the party a go.

The big day finally arrived and she and her daughter showed up at Hat Creek Burger Company in Keller, Texas, with party supplies in hand.

They were all that showed up, however. The stools remained stubbornly empty.

After 20 minutes of waiting, Lex realized the horrifying truth — no one was coming. She was devastated.

“I’m thinking to myself, no, this cannot be what’s happening,” Lex told WFAA News. “As a mom, the last thing I want is for my daughter, for the first time ever at 5 years old, to experience that type of social rejection – honestly, that’s what it is.”

Not knowing what else to do she turned to social media for help.

The Texas mom of four posted a desperate plea on her community’s group Facebook page, alongside a photo of Willa, alone, surrounded by decorations.

“If anyone has young kids and looking for something to do right now, no one showed up to my daughter’s birthday party. It’s her first (and likely last) party. We’d love to celebrate with you.”

She hoped against hope that at least one or two families would show up. Turns out, what they say about Texas is true; everything is bigger in Texas. Including the proverbial village.

How a Community Showed Up When No One Else Did

Within minutes, the Keller troops rallied. Grandparents, teenagers, and families started pouring into the restaurant, all with one singular purpose, to make certain that one little girl, a stranger, didn’t have to celebrate her birthday alone.

In an incredible display of community support, person after person came walking through the door, many of them bearing gifts.

“We went from not a single person at her birthday table to not a single table open at @hatcreekburgers,” Lex wrote on Instagram, sharing a heartwarming video clip of the packed restaurant.

The response, Lex said, was “life changing.” It also confirmed that moving to Texas two years ago was the right choice.

“We moved to Texas in general, and then specifically Keller because we saw that community feel. They were down to earth, kind, cared about supporting others. And that’s exactly what they did for our family,” she said.

The Power of Community and Showing Up

Oftentimes, it can feel like we’re alone in this world. That somewhere, along the way, we’ve lost our sense of community. That kindness is dead.

But when a little girl needed it, her community stepped up in the best possible way. Virtual strangers showed up, when no one else did, to ensure that she would feel celebrated and loved.

And THAT is the power of showing up.

“Showing up for somebody, even if it is a little inconvenient to you, it just means so much to other people and it really meant a lot to us today.”

Lex Fitzgerald

Lex originally set out to make her daughter’s 5th birthday a day she would never forget. And thanks to the overwhelming love of a community, what could have been a devastating memory turned into a beautiful one.

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