Facebook page making a difference in Los Banos

MERCED, Calif.

It's already played a role in helping the family of a young Los Banos football player who was killed in a car crash.

The death of 10-year-old Jayden Thomas devastated the Los Banos community. The Pee Wee football player was killed when police say a drunk driver crashed into his family's car on the way home from a game November 4. His parents and two little sisters were injured. One day later, hundreds of people packed the Pacheco High stadium to remember the young athlete.

"For me it makes it easier to wake up in the morning knowing he touched so many lives," Jayden's father Demond Thomas said.

Jayden's death also inspired Monica Gallagher to immediately launch a Facebook page she was developing called "Los Banos Community Pay It Forward." She posted a calendar set up by another resident where people could sign up to provide meals to the Thomas family for a month after the crash. That calendar was also posted on many different websites and Facebook pages, and the community came forward to help.

"It was really amazing to see how many people just out of nowhere come together and help us out a lot," Maria Thomas, Jayden's mother, said.

The Pay It Forward page now has more than 920 members who help with a variety of causes from making Christmas cards for the elderly to providing supplies for a local animal rescue group.

"I felt that there needed to be a one stop for community service and a page where everyone had the same goal, which was helping others," Monica Gallagher said.

Monica recruited two friends to help run the page, including Toni Moreno. She was already actively involved in fundraisers like the angel tree program, which provides Christmas gifts for children in need.

"It feels really good. I go to bed with a happy heart. I just like helping people," Toni Moreno said.

The women say they now hope this page will continue to grow and inspire other cities to launch similar efforts.

"It warms my heart to know that I live in a community I can count on, and so I'm hoping others will get that comfort by joining pay it forward," Gallagher said.

Monica says she was inspired in part by the movie "Pay It Forward" which shows a little boy doing good deeds for others, in hopes they will do the same.

To join the "Los Banos Community Pay It Forward" page, just log in to Facebook and enter that name in the search bar. Then click the "request" button on the main page to become a member.

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