On missing girl's birthday, volunteers thanked for helping with search

Hundreds of cupcakes being prepared, delivered today as search goes on

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EVANSDALE — Volunteers who have helped search for two missing Black Hawk County cousins shared cupcakes on Tuesday to mark one of the girls’ birthdays, in an effort that organizers hoped would help “bring families together.”

Elizabeth Collins of Evansdale, whose ninth birthday was Tuesday, and 10-year-old Lyric Cook of Waterloo were last seen riding bikes in Evansdale on July 13. Their bikes were found near Myers Lake, and authorities consider their disappearance an abduction.

Hundreds of cupcakes topped with bright pink frosting filled tables inside a community room at the Prince of Peach Church in Evansdale. Hundreds more were safely stored on a small stage. By the end of the day, organizers planned to have 1,500 cupcakes frosted, sprinkled and delivered to some of the many volunteers who have helped search for the girls.

Trista Manternach, principal at Poyner Elementary School, where Elizabeth is enrolled, said the school “wanted to do something to bring our families together.”

“When we realized Elizabeth’s birthday was today we thought it was the perfect opportunity and it gave us a purpose,” she said.

Elizabeth’s parents, Drew and Heather Collins, stopped by the event and spoke about not having their little girl at home for her ninth birthday.

“It was hard — it was hard to get up this morning,” Drew Collins said.

They said they’re still meeting with investigators for at least an hour every day to discuss new leads. But without any answers, they had a message for Elizabeth.

“We love you and we want you to come home,” Drew Collins said.

“Happy birthday, and you have a big party waiting for you when you come home,” Heather Collins said.

Manternach said support for the cupcake project was overwhelming.

“If you would have told me last Wednesday, when we started talking about this, that we would have had this kind of response I wouldn’t have believed it,” she said.

Community members baked most of the cupcakes, and the finished treats were delivered to more than 100 businesses that donated manpower and supplies for the search effort. Children and adults attending the event also making cards thanking the volunteers for their help.

A massive sweep of the area drew hundreds of volunteers after the girls disappeared but failed to find any evidence. Authorities classified the case as an abduction after divers using sonar equipment ruled out the possibility their bodies might be recovered in the lake, but investigators have released little new information in the past several days.

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