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Fund Drive Starts for Missing Cousins Memorial

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EVANSDALE, Iowa - A fund drive is under way here for a permanent memorial for abducted cousins Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins.

Workers at Casey's General Stores in Evansdale, Elk Run Heights, Waterloo and Independence have started taking donations to raise $3,000 for a granite engraved bench honoring the girls, to be located along the recreational trail at Meyers Lake, where the girls disappeared July 13.

"We wanted to do something and we came up with this idea," said Teresa Zuke, an area supervisor for local Casey's stores.

Casey's corporate headquarters in Ankeny has already donated $500, a gift personally approved by company CEO Bob Myers and individuals on the company's contributions committee, company spokesman Bill Waljasper said.

"We have a fondness for this," Waljasper said. "The mother of one of the children works at the store in Elk Run Heights." That is Misty Morrissey, Lyric's mother.

Donation canisters have been set up at the two Casey's stores in Evansdale, at Lafayette and River Forest roads; two of the Waterloo stores, on La Porte Road and San Marnan Drive; the store in Independence; and the store in Elk Run Heights, where Misty Morrissey works.

In addition, Drew and Heather Collins, Elizabeth's parents, are regular customers at the Evansdale stores, Zuke said.

"We're going to present this to the (Evansdale) park board, and they've told us there would be no problem getting it okayed," Zuke said.

A preliminary design has been submitted to a Waterloo monument company. She noted a similar bench already is located at Meyers Lake in memory of Charles Whitney, an Iowa State trooper from Cedar Falls who was killed in the line of duty in an accident on nearby Interstate 380 in the mid-1980s.

Law officers believe two bodies found Wednesday at a wooded wildlife area in Bremer County 20 miles north of Meyers Lake are those of the girls, pending official identification by the State Medical Examiner's Office.

Grieving store employees, feeling the need to take some action, started the fund drive right after it was announced the bodies were found.

Donations so far have been "good," Zuke said Friday afternoon. "I'm at Independence today and we've got close to $300 just from here."

A bank account for the project is being set up at First Security State Bank in Evansdale, Zuke said. In addition to cash donations currently being accepted, checks may be made out to the Memorial Park Bench Account at the bank.

Proceeds in excess of the amount needed for the bench will be donated to charities supporting searches for missing and abducted children and their families.

Karla Poldberg, manager at the Lafayette Road Casey's, who helped conceive the idea, said it is one way store employees and customers can show their affection for Lyric and Elizabeth and "remember them forever."

The girls also are being honored at a Waterloo sporting event tonight. The Waterloo Black Hawks hockey team planned "pink out" at Friday's game to honor them.

The Black Hawks will wear a commemorative Elizabeth and Lyric sticker on their helmets beginning Friday and for the rest of the season. The team planned to pause for a moment of silence before the opening faceoff.

Meanwhile, a "Life and Love of Elizabeth" celebration is planned for 5 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, at Heartland Vineyard Church. A Collins Family Benefit account has been set up at Farmers State Bank.

Plans are in the works for a similar event for Lyric.

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