Taco Bell Holds Fundraiser for Sick Employee

Some Taco Bell employees are hoping you'll make a run to the border Wednesday. No, this isn't an advertisement, but an appeal for help at a fundraiser to be held at the Taco Bell in Columbia Wednesday.

Workers at the franchise restaurant came up with the idea to help out one of their beloved co-workers. "People come in and ask about her, you know. Where is she? And we all have to tell them the story," said Taco Bell employee Tammy Dalton.

Employees at Taco Bell say things haven't quite been the same since their 20-year-old co-worker Amanda McElroy was hospitalized with a serious viral lung infection three weeks ago.

"She's real sweet, energetic, always friendly. And everybody looks for her when they come in because they know that smile, know that personality. She's just a real warm person," Dalton said.

Amanda is still in the hospital, but in the meantime, her co-workers have come up with a bright idea to help out. "The employees came to me a couple of weeks ago and told me they wanted to work for free and that their pay go for Amanda," said franchise owner, Kevin Moore.

The restaurant's owner took it a step further, deeming Wednesday Friends of Amanda Day. All proceeds from Wednesday's sales will be used to help pay Amanda's medical bills. The goal is to raise $5,000 through Wednesday's benefit. Amanda's medical bills have already reached $150,000, and they're mounting every day.

"So far, we've got about $1,200 in donations from the Coast, England, Georgia, we're getting checks from everywhere," Moore said. But these funds will only put a small dent in Amanda's medical bills. That's why her co-workers are hoping there will be an outpouring of support from the community on Friends of Amanda Day. These employees are optimistic about the benefit, and the return of the co-worker they also consider a friend.

"We're looking forward, most of all for her to come back. That's going to be a great day. When she walks back into Taco Bell, that's going to be a great day," Dalton said.

The Taco Bell restaurants in Wiggins and Edgewater Mall in Biloxi will also be accepting donations for Amanda tomorrow.