SWEET HOME, Ore. -- After a tragic jet ski accident on Monday, the Sweet Home community is continuing to show their support for the families of the children involved.
Zach Maynard and Kennedy Swenson, two six-year-olds, were hit by a jet ski after the driver had fallen off. Both were taken to the hospital, where they suffered life-threatening injuries. Kennedy is now home from the hospital. However, Zach did not make it.
Community members stepped up and held a bottle drive fundraiser on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of O’Reilly Auto Parts, where thousands of bottles and cans were collected.
“When something like this happens in a community, it has a way of bringing you together that is indescribable,” Shelly Martineau, an organizer, said.
For several hours, cars from across Oregon flooded in and out of the parking lot dropping off items and cash donations. It was a sight organizers said exceeded their expectations.
“It’s the whole being a neighbor, being a tribe and helping each other through tough situations," Martineau said. "I'm just happy to be a small part of it. My heart goes out to the families. I can't imagine. I can't imagine.”
From those assisting physically with the drive to the hundreds who took the time out of their day to stop by, all shared a common goal: to show that even during the most difficult times, there’s a community who has your back.
“I think when something hard like this happens, they don't know what to do or how to help,” Angie Bair, an organizer, said. “This is one where they feel like they're doing something, and it helps.”
Shawn Anderson has known Zach’s father since middle school. He said they will do anything to assist the family during this time.
“Help a family out,” Anderson said. “The family’s lost enough. My personal goal is to make sure they don't see a single cent in doctor bills-both families. I think this town will do that.”
Even those who do not know the families personally still showed up to lend a helping hand.
Carolyn Owen is a Kindergarten teacher’s assistant at Zach and Kennedy’s elementary school.
“Kennedy has the brightest and most beautiful smile,” Owen said. “Just always happy and caring and just a beautiful little girl. Zach was her best little buddy. He followed her everywhere, and Zach is so kind-hearted and so sweet. Those two are like peas in a pod. They were best friends and always together.”
Owen shared that Zach will be missed immensely.
“It’s truly a show of love and support for these kids and the families of these beautiful children,” Owen said. “To see all the support is so incredible and just goes to show how much love and community there is in this town.”
You can still help with donations. Bottles and cans are accepted at any BottleDrop in Oregon. By choosing to donate to AYSO Region 870, the money will go directly to both families.