SAGINAW When school finished for the day at Willow Creek Elementary, a group of men in motorcycle jackets got to work.
They set up in the courtyard on the west side of the school and started shoveling soil, barrel by barrel. They were breaking ground on a project that they hope will heal the hearts that broke when 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher, who attended school here, was found dead.
'It's hard that somebody from this school has died as a young child,' said 8-year-old student Jonathan Pennington. 'It's very sad.'
Few at the school or in Saginaw will ever forget Gallagher, 6, who was kidnapped and murdered this past summer.
'This beautiful thing that these men are creating definitely stitches, or places a Band-Aid over this open wound,' said Willow Creek mom Allie Pennington.
The learning center memorial being built in Alanna's honor by the Specialists Motorcycle Club will include a gazebo and a stone engraved with phrases from the her favorite books. The project also includes a special feature that, when the sun hits it, it will cast a shadow of a little girl with a net chasing butterflies.
'We have dreams that we chase,' said David Carter, the project's architect. 'I think for Alanna, she never had that opportunity to go on with her dreams. Here spiritually, she will be chasing her dreams.'
Alanna's classroom will be feet away from the memorial. Her brother's is, too. The project scheduled to be completed this Thanksgiving is a gift for the entire family.
'When someone's house is torn down in a storm. Neighbors help neighbors rebuild,' said Carter. 'Although, the Gallagher dwelling is still standing, we hope to help their family rebuild their home just a little bit.'