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Angels Park Helps Community Heal

EVANSDALE, IA (KGAN/KFXA) -Two Eastern Iowa families are approaching a major milestone in a very difficult year. Tomorrow will mark one year since the disappearance of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook from Evansdale.

The girl's bodies were discovered five months later in December in the 7 Bridges Wildlife Area.

Now the Evansdale community is making sure the girls will always have a place where they can return home, it’s called Angels Park, at what was formerly known as Meyers Lake. It’s a place that’s honoring five murdered Iowa girls including Collins and Cook.

 Since volunteers broke ground  in February,  they’ve built a roadway out to an island with five pavilions. They’ve also cleared trees and shrubbery from the island creating a place of hope for the community.

“You just feel their presence,” Volunteer Dona Frickson said of Collins and Cook. 
Frickson often waters  around the gazebos for Collins and Cook.
“I really think the whole community needed it,” Heather Collins, Elizabeth’s mother, said of Angel’s Park.

The memorial honors four murdered Iowa children including Collins and Cook, Evelyn Miller and Donisha Hill. Lindsey Nichols, who was 22 when she was killed, has the 5th and largest pavilion, watching over the rest.

“It just seems like the little bit that we can do that might help somebody feel a little better,” volunteer Karen Acton said.
The beauty at the park now has grown through the efforts of volunteers and through donations alone.
“There’s so many people in the community that have come out and planted, knocked trees down , dug the gardens and do all the work,” Drew Collins, Elizabeth’s father said.
There is rarely a moment on a summer afternoon that volunteers aren’t streaming into Angels Park. Most just show up, or come in response to postings on the “Angels Park” Facebook page.
The goal is to bring a new feeling to the place where Collins and Cook’s bikes were found after they disappeared
“We needed something to make this a happier place,” Frickson said.
For volunteer, Chris Webb, who has been volunteering at Angels Park since the groundbreaking in February, it is a rewarding process. 
“You get the joy of seeing people’s faces when they see how far you’ve come,” Webb said.
For some, the building and planting helps them come closer to girls they never had the opportunity to meet.
“I feel like I’m like Elizabeth. Her parents say she was a brave and a sweet hearted girl, and my mom also says that I’m that,” Emily Thedens, 10, said. Thedens visits Angels Park regularly to help with watering and planting. 
For volunteers, Angels Park is a place where the girls, all of them, can come home.
“There’s always butterflies, butterflies are a sign of life,” Frickson said.
Pink became the signature color of the search for Elizabeth and Lyric, because the color was one of their favorites. On Saturday, on the first anniversary of their disappearance, volunteers will plant 60 pink rose bushes in two heart shaped gardens.
Volunteers said that there are many more plans for the island, including two fountains. One in pink for Elizabeth and a second in purple for Lyric who also enjoyed the color purple. Webb added that within the next two years , volunteers hope to put the finishing touches on Angels Park.


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