LUBBOCK, TX (KFDA) - Hundreds of Texans are coming together to support an area family after they gained - and lost - a loved one.
Kalee Barton, 29, gave birth to her son, Cru, just three weeks before she passed away on Sunday of an apparent heart attack.
Cru was born prematurely and spent his first couple of weeks in the NICU in Lubbock. Kalee was finally able to take her son home from the hospital on the Friday before her death.
To help support her newborn, her husband, Cy, and 7-year-old daughter, Addisyn, and several communities across the state have banned together and took up collections of breast milk.
Several collection sites have been created in Amarillo, Canyon, Lubbock, Midland, Odessa, Plainview, and even in Dallas and Fort Worth.
Samantha Nelson recently gave 1,903 ounces of milk (almost 15 gallons) to the family. To inspire others to give she posted pictures of the donation in the Facebook group "Bits of Life."
"I wish y'all could have seen how grateful her parents and husband were," Nelson said. "Her dad told me someone called him at 3 a.m. from Nebraska trying to find a way to get milk to him. This is so incredible. This baby gets fed and it's all because of you. This group is so good. Women helping women is amazing."
Britney Sherley knew Kalee through her sister, and heard about Kalee's passing when her mom called her Sunday morning. After seeing a post on Bits of Life, she sprang into action.
"Immediately people started praying and offering their love and support," Sherley said. "The milk began coming pretty quickly. I was in Amarillo at the time and offered to take any milk back to Lubbock from the Amarillo and Canyon areas. I then offered myself to be a drop off and delivery for the Lubbock area, as I live in Lubbock so it would be easy for me to get it and take it to them."
Sherley said Kalee's passing has been hard on her family and friends.
"It doesn't make sense for a young mom of a brand new baby and a beautiful 7-year-old to lose her life," Sherley said. "We will never understand and we can try our best to understand it and be mad and try to figure it out, or we can surrender and let God fight it.This is purely God's work. We are just the deliverers. I think about my kids and if I had lost my life when my youngest was born, I would have hoped and prayed that I would have had at least half of the love that has been shown towards Kalee and her family."
Kalee's funeral will be held Friday Sept. 23, at Hillside West Chapel 6100 Soncy Rd. Services will begin at 2 p.m.