Bonita Mack knows the value of a smile.
So far, hers has earned more than $5,500.
Mack worked more than 10 years in the drive-thru window at McDonald’s on Thompson Bridge Road. She’s known by many as the pretty lady with the bright smile who always has a kind word to spare.
Last month, Mack was in a car accident, which broke her right leg in three places and badly fractured her left leg.
“My son was driving, and we were taking him back to college,” Mack said of her 18-year-old son Juwon Merritt, who goes to Point University in West Point. “It was four lanes, and a car tried to switch lanes, but when he went, he just zoomed over all four.”
The driver collided with Mack’s vehicle, which spun, crashing into the median wall.
A number of witnesses tried to help, Mack said, and one woman was screaming, “Hurry, get out of the car.”
“I was thinking, ‘We got to get out. It’s going to blow,’” Mack said. “But I turned, looked down, and my foot was just dangling. I looked at that lady and said, ‘I can’t get out.’”
When emergency vehicles arrived, they were on the other side of the median, Mack said. In the end, she was removed from the vehicle and lifted over the median wall to an ambulance on the other side, which escorted her to Atlanta Medical Center.
Mack’s son and her 25-year-old daughter Makita McMullen, who was in the front passenger seat, were not seriously injured in the wreck.
But Mack’s legs may never be the same again.
“I know her through drive-thru,” said Terry Dean, who makes a daily stop at Mack’s old McDonald’s to purchase her morning coffee. “That’s it. That’s how I know her, but I know she’s just a great girl.”
When word began to spread about Mack’s injuries, Dean wanted to help.
“When I saw the pictures of her legs on Facebook, that’s when I contacted her,” Dean said. “It’s just a sad story and I said to her, ‘You really need to get a GoFundMe account.’”
Dean made the account for Mack, who does not own a computer. Within one day, more than $2,500 had been donated.
“My husband and I drive from Dahlonega just to see her smile and make our day,” one $20 donation read. “Prayers for you and your family.”
Another $10 donation came from Michigan. “Our niece in Gainesville loves you,” the post read.
Someone from 2 Dog Restaurant in Gainesville donated $100.
“Keep your smile,” the restaurant’s post said. “The service industry needs smiles.”
To date, the GoFundMe account has raised more than $5,650. Dean said she’s hoping it will raise as much as $10,000 for Mack.
Mack started working at HomeGoods nearly two months ago. She had qualified for insurance and was turning in her paperwork Aug. 17. The wreck occurred the day before.
She’s now dealing with the costs of her nearly weeklong hospital stay, a surgery to put a rod and four screws in her leg and blood thinners for a blood clot that resulted from the accident.
Mack can’t work while she’s healing and wheelchair-bound. She said she’s grateful to her mother and daughter for caring for her.
She’s also thankful for the generosity of those who remember her from McDonald’s.
“Being nice goes a long way,” she said. “Because that’s all I did. I was just being nice to half those people. The policy at McDonald’s is, ‘Give them their bag and get them out.’ But I would talk to them, get to know them.”
Dean said Mack always made her feel special.
“I always just thought, ‘Why would I be anything to them that I don’t want them to be to me?” she said.