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St. Anthony helps family of injured freshman
Students, staff and members of the St. Anthony of Padua School PTG held a soda float fund-raiser for the family of Manteca High freshman Jonathan Loon who is at UC Davis Medical Center. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Friends in need are friends indeed.

For the family of Manteca High School freshman Jonathan Loon, those friends in need are the students, staff and PTG of St. Anthony of Padua School who went out of their way to reach out to the Loon family. After school on Friday, these philanthropic friends raised more than $700 in cash one soda float at a time.

In addition to the cash, which included donations given outside the $2 price of each soda float cup, some parents donated scripts to the family. The scripts, which the family can use to purchase items from grocery items to fuel at the gas pump, included $250 worth from the Student Council, 2 cards for Food 4 Less, three cards for In & Out Burger, and one card for Taco Bell.

The soda came from the recent barn dance fund-raiser for the school. The ice cream was donated by Jonathan and Dawn McElrath of the Parent Teacher Group (PTG).

A phone call seeking an update on the condition of the Manteca High freshman was not returned as of press time. The 15-year-old suffered major injuries about five weeks ago when he and other teen-agers were walking home on the shoulder of East Highway 120 and were hit by a distracted 19-year-old female driver. A 16-year-old girl suffered moderate injuries, with another 14-year-old boy sustaining minor injuries.

The tragic accident took the life of Manteca High School JROTC Cadet Zachariah Gomez Hernandez, 14.

The parents of Jonathan Loon were unable to attend the Friday fund-raiser at St. Anthony’s School. Mother Raquel has been keeping a bedside vigil next to her son at the hospital, and has been unable to go to work. The teen’s father is a truck driver.

Members of the family who were present at the soda float event were Jonathan’s twin brothers, Ricardo and Felix, Felix’s wife Joelyssa, and their 9-month-old son Felix, Jr.

While the family could not say any particulars about Jonathan’s condition, they said that the teen will recover.

A sister of the hospitalized teen is a fourth grader at St. Anthony’s School.

The fund-raiser was an effort to help the family in their time of need, said parent volunteer Dawn McElrath who organized the PTG members to hold the event. “We wanted to help the family. They need support,” she said.

McElrath said they are also making plans to hold another fund-raiser, a drive-thru dinner at Fagundes Meats in mid-June.

“My hope is to spread the word to our community that this family can use support from the community not only by money but prayers also,” McElrath said.

An account to help the family has also been opened at Bank of the West in Manteca where donations for the injured teen can be made.