Great Bend comes together to support hurting family

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 7:58 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Residents of Great Bend are coming together to help support a family after the loss of a young woman late last year. Employees where she worked hosted a fundraiser to honor her memory.

Melina Chavez died after a car crash last December. Staff from her high school workplace, Applebee’s in Great Bend, put together a fundraiser to donate 50 percent of certain food sales to her family.

“Any funds from the fundraiser go to her memorial fund,” Melina’s brother Bobby Chavez said. “It’ll go for a headstone, some medical bill expenses and some financial stuff as well.”

Bobby Chavez said the show of compassion is helping the family cope.

“I also worked here, too, so we’re pretty close with the managers here and some of the employees here,” he said. “It felt very good knowing that they did care for my sister and she did make an impact here.”

After she worked at Applebee’s for more than two years, Melina wasn’t just seen as another worker, but as a member of the family.

“It feels great that small impact she made,” Bobby said. “People still remember her just from a simple job here from waiting tables.”

Applebee’s manager Melissa Nicholson said losing Melina was painful.

“It was very hard because she was young and very full of life,” Nicholson said. “So it was very shocking because it was one of the names you don’t expect to see in the paper or in the obituary. It took a little bit to settle in that she’s gone.”

Nicholson said she wants to help make a difference for the Chavez family.

“This is really close to my heart,” Nicholson said. “I really hope this is one of our best fundraisers yet.”

The fundraiser ended Tuesday at 11 p.m.