KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Keystone Heights Elementary first-grader Colten Raymer learned Saturday with social media how quick a disappointing afternoon can turn into a jubilant one.
Colten and his mother, Meagan, started placing decorations at Keystone Beach about 30 minutes before the party that started at 3 p.m. He doesn’t turn seven until August, but his mother wanted to have it early and invite his classmates.
First grade was over, and it was time to party.
No one RSVP’d, which was a warning sign.
“I was thinking some people don’t do [RSVPs], so some people might just show up,” Meagan Raymer said.
It was clear the children weren’t coming. Meagan Raymer said she cried, and her son was sitting alone at a table. She took to Facebook at 3:19 p.m. and relayed the situation on Keystone Heights’ “Word of Mouth” page.
While she expected a few moms to bring their children, the post garnered an enormous amount of responses.
People gave Colten birthday wishes. They called and said they were on the way with their children. They spread the word, telling other children to bring their friends. A man sent a video rendition of “Happy Birthday to You,” on the guitar.
“My husband and daughter are on the way!” a woman wrote.
“Happy birthday little man! Sorry that this happened, but judging by the comments, there ARE still great people in this town,” another said. “I hope you end up with a wonderful party!”
The results were staggering, Meagan Raymer said. Hundreds gave Colten Raymer encouragement. More than 50 people brought presents, she said. They brought cash, books, toys and lots of candy. Clay County Fire Rescue and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrived.
“I liked when I got lots of gifts, and when a lot of people and the firetruck showed up,” Colten Raymer said. “I want to say thank you.”
From Syracuse, N.Y., the Raymers have lived in Keystone Heights for about 18 months. The emotional occasion was a rollercoaster, Meagan Raymer said, beginning with frustration and ending overrun with children and adults eager to wish her son a happy seventh birthday.
“I never expected this to end up this way. We are new to the community, so we don’t know anyone at all. We’re very grateful,” the mother said. “It’s unbelievable what they did for a complete stranger. It’s nice to know this is a very supportive community in a time of need.”