allen mall shooting

Volunteers Needed at Allen Outlets Memorial Site

Volunteers who are helping to maintain the site say they also need donations of plastic bins to store the stuffed animals

NBC Universal, Inc.

Small efforts to pay respects to the victims of last weekend’s mass shooting have created a big and meaningful message outside of the Allen Premium Outlets.

A memorial full of flowers, crosses, toys and other mementos continues to grow and transform with each passing day.

On Thursday, five days after the mass shooting that claimed eight lives, droves of people were still coming by to pray, cry and connect with each other through the pain.

Some of the flowers and toys have come from the Allen Flower Shop, which has also been preparing for a busy Mother’s Day holiday this weekend.

But owner Ginger Kerr Collier has been working on building an arrangement she wishes she never had to – an order for a memorial dedicated to the shooting victims.

"It makes you realize this can happen anywhere,” she said. “You always feel like it’s never going to happen around you, but this one hit close to home.”

Her mind goes to the mothers who lost their lives and the ones who lost their children.

"Mother's Day is never going to be the same,” Collier said.

Her shop has served the community for 50 years, first run by her parents.

“My dad bought my mom this flower shop for her birthday in 1972,” she said. “I was two years old when my dad bought this flower shop. This has been home for a long time.”

Her family has seen it all in Allen. But nothing like this.

“We are the second oldest family-owned business in town,” Collier said. "I just feel heartbroken that evil came to Allen, evil targeted Allen.”

People have stopped by her shop to grab flowers and toys for the growing memorial outside the outlets.

"One of them really got me when a teenage boy came in,” Collier said. "Teenagers shouldn't have to be dealing with us. We shouldn't have a teenager coming in buying flowers for a mass shooting memorial."

But the flowers have meaning. The purpose of the memorial transcends the physical objects that are gathered in one place. Collier said it’s healing.

"I feel like sometimes when the world feels so dark and scary these bright beautiful flowers are just a beautiful thing to look at and remind us of the beauty that we do have here on earth,” she said.

As the memorial grows, Cheryl Jackson is one of a handful of volunteers in the effort to maintain the memorial. She has worked up to 12 or more hours per day monitoring the site and organizing the offerings.

“I’ve witnessed so much pain. So many people with questions and so much hurt,” she said. "I've seen friends of the people who lost their lives in this horrific tragedy. They've cried on my shoulders. They've screamed at me. It’s just shock, disbelief."

People are leaving a piece of themselves in what's turned into a sacred space.

"It's their way of speaking to the families,” Jackson said. "I think they want to leave a part of them somewhere. I think that's their message to the family, that I was here. And that I care.”

Volunteers said the memorial should stay up for at least another week.

They plan to donate the crosses to the families and everything else to the city of Allen.

“Flowers are a message of love, it’s a message of happiness. It makes people smile. And I think that that’s their way of saying that Allen will smile again, there will be brighter days tomorrow,” Jackson said. “When you see all the different colors of flowers, it just lets me remember the diversity that we have in this beautiful city, and how we’ve all come together to create just one beautiful memorial to these families.”

Jackson said they are in need of more volunteers to help maintain this memorial and keep watch. Those interested in volunteering can simply show up to the memorial location, which is off Stacy Road behind the Hampton Inn & Suites and near the American Eagle outlet store.

Volunteers also need plastic bins with wheels to help store the stuffed animals for a potential donation opportunity at a later date. The bins can be dropped off at the memorial site.

Contact Us