After excitedly "counting down the days" to her 5th birthday party, Willa Fitzgerald sat alone eagerly awaiting the arrival of her friends at a restaurant in Texas over the weekend.
Yet after 20 minutes, the stools surrounding the neatly decorated table remained empty as her heartbroken mum Lex watched on.
In one last desperate act, Lex reached out to a local Facebook group in the hope a few families in the community might be available to join them and turn the day around for her daughter.
"If anyone has young kids and looking for something to do right now, no one showed up to my daughter's birthday party," she wrote online. "It's her first (and likely last) party. We'd love to celebrate with you."
The mum shared that despite inviting Willa's "entire class, last year's class, and friends we had made along the way", only 30 per cent had RSVP'd yes prior to the event, but she never thought no one would show up.
'Most beautiful show of community'
Just "minutes" after her Facebook post, people started to fill the restaurant to join Willa.
"The entire restaurant was packed with families who refused to let my daughter celebrate alone ... We went from not a single person at her birthday table to not a single table open at Hack Creeks Burgers," Lex later said.
Videos shared online show the venue swarmed with children eating chips and donning paper hats as their parents watched on. Willa also posed for pictures in front of a table full of birthday presents after the community arrived armed with gifts.
"I just want to say thank you to all of the people who came today to be with us. You not only showed up for my little girl, but for me as well," Lex said.
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