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Exactly a year ago, 18-year-old Dominic Orta was killed in a horrific car accident. Now, her mother is doing everything she can to keep Dominic’s legacy alive.

This week, Annette Orta from San Antonio, Texas, and her family are donating Thanksgiving meals to 30 families as a way of honoring Dominic, who Orta told Granthshala News, “was a very giving person.”

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“She was full of life and living life to the fullest, so she wouldn’t want us to be sad and crying all the time,” Orta said. “We do this [cry] A lot, but she wouldn’t want us like that. So, we try to keep his memory alive and do everything possible.”

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Dominic passed away on November 15, 2020. She was the fourth of five sisters and graduated high school in the spring of 2020. She was preparing to go to nursing school in January 2021.

“She was just the life of the party, always dancing,” Orta said. “She was just free-spirited … living life to the fullest,” he said.

“All her friends say she was the light in a dark room,” Orta continued. “She was there for them when they needed her most.”

When she was in high school, Dominic was a good student, Orta said. She often donated blood and even organized her school’s blood campaigns.

Before she died, Dominic was about to start work as a seasonal employee at UPS for the holidays, where she could save money, before nursing school in January.

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Last November, Dominic was in a car when an alleged drunk driver hit the car she was in. Dominic was kicked out of the car, which overturned and landed on him, breaking almost all his bones below his waist, Orta said.

Orta said he was brought to the hospital, where Orta and his family saw Dominic for some time before dying.

To honor Dominic's life and memory, the Orta family has donated 30 meals to families in need for Thanksgiving.  (Courtesy of Annette Orta)

Although Dominic was an organ donor, she was able to donate her cornea only after she died because of the nature of her injuries, Orta said.

Orta said she and her family were in “shock and disbelief” following Dominic’s death.

“She affected a lot of people’s lives,” Orta said.

,[Dominique’s death] Really shook our community,” Annette said.

Orta said over the past year he and his family have continued to mourn the loss of Dominic. Orta and her husband have visited the cemetery where Dominic is buried every day and last week on the one-year anniversary of his death, they celebrated life.

The Orta family (pictured) will run a toy drive around Christmastime in Dominic's honor.  (Courtesy of Annette Orta)

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The Orta family also decided to donate food to families in need for Thanksgiving, an event they’re naming “Kiki’s Thanksgiving Blessing” after Kiki, one of Dominic’s nicknames.

At first, Ortas decided to donate 10 meals, but with donations and support from the community this has grown to 30. Annette said the family would also do a toy drive at Christmastime, also in Dominic’s name.

“We are just happy and blessed that we are able to do this to help other people and since she was such a giving person, we are doing this in her memory, in her honor,” Orta said.

“It is such a tradition that we plan to start it every year to keep his memory alive,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to forget who she was.”