The Anna community is standing beside the families of the two Anna High School students that died in an automobile wreck on Highway 121 Tuesday.
Joe’s Italian Bistro held a fundraiser Saturday at its Anna restaurant. All proceeds from the event will be given to the families of Abigail Kendall and Brianna Gesino, who both worked at the establishment.
“They were both extraordinary young ladies,” restaurant owner Yvonne Ulaj said. “They were both very talented and inspiring. They were very smart. Everyone here in the Anna community loved them. They are going to be missed very dearly.”
Ulaj said that she knew Gesino long before she began working at the bistro.
“Annette, Brianna’s mom, has been working here since we opened in 2009,” she said. “At that time Briana was like 7-8 years old. She was a part of this family.”
Ulaj said that the restaurant wanted to have the fundraiser so that they could give back to the families of the girls that had given to the restaurant.
“We were very fortunate to have them here,” Ulaj said. “Not having their bright smiles here has been different. Their co-workers and the Anna community have been grieving. We have a deep sadness.”
Ulaj said the Anna community has been donating nonstop since the wreck happened.
“We feel fortunate to do this in their honor,” she said.
Susan Hawkins is a regular at Joe’s Italian Bistro in Anna and echoed those sentiments.
“This is about showing support and love and being there for these families,” she said. “This small town is coming together and being there for one another. We want to support each other.”
Hawkins said that she feels for the friends and family that Kendall and Gesino left behind.
“They do not have a chance to fulfill their dreams in everyday life,” she said.
Dave and Pat Eaton generally eat at the Allen location of Joe’s Italian Bistro, but Saturday, they made the trip to the Anna location to make sure the proceeds from their meal went to the families of Kendall and Gesino.
“The food is wonderful and Joe and Yvonne are wonderful people,” Pat Eaton said. “You never know when something tragic is going to happen. I could not imagine losing our child. We came here today because we have got to stand together. We want people to know that people care.”
Dave Eaton said that if he needed anything, Joe Ulaj would be there to support him, so he was happy to support the Ulajs supporting the Gesino and Kendall families. Dave Eaton said he is proud to be a part of a community that helps each other.
“Community is all we have got,” Dave Eaton said.