allen mall shooting

Memorial for Mendoza Sisters Grows in Wylie ISD

Daniela and Sofia were among the eight people killed by a mass shooter at the Allen Premium Outlets on Saturday

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A memorial is growing in front of Cox Elementary School in Wylie ISD where two victims of the May 6 Allen mass shooting once attended.

Throughout the day on Wednesday, people laid flowers, toys and balloons in memory of Daniela Mendoza, 11, and Sofia Mendoza, 8. The sisters were among the eight people killed by a mass shooter at the Allen Premium Outlets on Saturday.

Members of the Wylie and Sachse community are finding it hard to understand such a senseless loss.

“I think it’s terrible and tragic,” said one man, who stopped by to pay respects to the girls.

In their honor, yellow ribbons adorn the trees on the Cheri Cox Elementary campus. Staff and students across the district also wore yellow, which is the girls’ favorite color.

Naomi Delgado said the sisters remind her of her own little sisters. She lives just down the block from the Mendoza girls’ school.

“It hit way too hard. It just made me sick to my stomach,” she said. “I have an 8-year-old sister in a 10-year-old sister and I couldn’t imagine if I got that call. I really couldn’t.”

She brought her own toys from her childhood to leave at the growing memorial.

“I wanted to put my own stuffed animals out there, it meant a little bit more to me that I gave a little piece of myself to them,” Delgado said.

Daniela Mendoza, 11, and Sofia Mendoza, 8.
Family Photo
Daniela Mendoza, 11, and Sofia Mendoza, 8.

A GoFundMe for the Mendoza family has now raised over $241,000 as of May 10, well above its $20,000 goal.

Meanwhile, the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry of Lutheran Church Charities has been making its way across Allen, Wylie and beyond, helping classmates and first responders find a space to heal.

“There’s a lot of hurt going on right now, so it’s a mixed bag of emotions,” said Bonnie Fear, LCC crisis response coordinator. “Of course, we had children that were upset and by the time we left, they were smiling laughing and talking to their friends. So that is the impact that our pups have had here.”

The comfort dogs and their handlers are wrapping up their work on Thursday but are ready to respond to requests if needed in the coming weeks.

Lutheran Church Charities

"Just by them being present and the kids circle around them, they pet them, they can talk to them. It's just been a true witness to see how these dogs can change those emotions so quickly for the people we need," said Fear.

To continue the support, Children’s Health is also offering free behavioral health consultations for families now through June 8 on their Virtual Visit app.

Families can download the Children’s Health Virtual Visit app to access and schedule care and enter code SUPPORTALLEN (case sensitive, no spaces) in place of payment information. This code will remain active through June 8 and is for one-time use.

"It lowers the barriers and eliminates barriers in most cases where people that otherwise wouldn't have access to mental health treatment or consultation can get that," said Nicholas J. Westers, Psy.D., ABPP, clinical psychologist at Children’s Health and associate professor at UT Southwestern.

Westers says open dialogue with children of all ages is important right now.

“Not simply say, ‘There’s nothing to worry about, you’re perfectly safe.’ We don’t want to close the conversation in that way. We want to be able to ask them – what are you most worried about?” he said. "Because many times kids are more worried about things that are even off of our radar. So asking that and listening to what they know and what they want to know, we can provide adequate healthy, important, clear information to them."

By elementary age, kids have most likely heard about what happened.

"So what parents can do in these cases, if they're not sure if their child is aware what has happened or what's going on, they can simply ask, 'Have you heard in the news about what's happened? And if so what have you heard?'" said Westers. "And the parents can listen to see what their child knows."

Westers suggests that parents have younger children write a letter or draw a picture to express their emotions.

"That makes them have a sense of control," he said. "Because when I think about parents and caregivers, I like to use the metaphor of a lighthouse, we are the lighthouse. Our kids are the vessels, the boats in the water. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes there are storms... But if they know when they go out into the world, into the uncharted seas at some point, they can always look back and know where the lighthouse is."

Inside Cox Elementary, a child’s drawing of two angel doves – a sign of hope and healing for a community in mourning.

Lutheran Church Charities

“There’s one thing that Sachse and Wylie does, that we’re all very tight-knit once tragedy hits,” said Delgado. “We genuinely are here for them, and we love them, we wish nothing but healing.”

With the outpouring of support for the victims of the mass shooting at the Allen Premium Outlets, GoFundMe has launched a centralized hub for all verified fundraisers related to the shooting. The online fundraising platform said it was working around the clock to make sure that all funds donated go directly to survivors or the families of victims.

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