BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – The rolled Thai ice cream and bubble tea were flowing at Taste Buds’ small, crowded space late Wednesday afternoon — and that was good news for the Evelyn Boswell reward fund.
First-time customers and regulars streamed into the eclectic shop after owner Helen Donnelly announced she’d donate half of Taste Buds’ gross proceeds for the day to the reward fund offered to anyone that can lead authorities to the missing toddler.
“All the girls are volunteering their time and they’re volunteering all of their tips,” Donnelly said of her employees. By 3 p.m. — before the normal busy hours — more than $250 had been raised, including a $100 donation from a local business, iMerchant Direct.
“From 11 o’clock to now we’ve done pretty good,” Donnelly said as a couple of first-time patrons walked in the door. It was Joe and Sylvia Davis, who had driven all the way from Haysi, Va. after hearing about the fundraiser.
Donnelly said Evelyn Boswell’s story “has consumed my life” since the news broke last week. She realized a fundraiser would be one way she could help.
“We’re a community, and we all need to pull together and do something for this child,” Donnelly said. “I’m a grandmother, I’m a mom.”
So is Jane Nichols, a regular customer at Taste Buds who said she wasn’t surprised Donnelly had arranged the fundraiser. “I think it’s great that they’re doing it,” Nichols said.
Nichols teared up talking about the search for Evelyn. “I just hope she’s alive, safe, that somebody’s got her somewhere hidden and they’ll come forward,” she said.
By closing time, the restaurant had brought in enough to send a $700 donation, Donnelly said.