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Baby pulls community together
Crowd also wants to draw attention to issue of child abuse

Community members gathered Friday night at the Effingham County Courthouse to pray for a 10-month-old baby recovering from the effects of alleged child abuse.

Kristen Hamilton and April Hardy planned the vigil to bring attention to Aiden Waller’s situation and to the problem of child abuse.

Those in attendance spoke to support Aiden and his recovery, and prayed for God to heal him.

One community member asked God to “touch him and make things right with him”. Another said she hoped this event would open the eyes of judges that it is not always best to have children go back to their parents.

Another in attendance said Aiden is strong, and it has been positive to see the community come together to support “one of God’s children.”

Another said he wanted the community to know it is important to report child abuse when it is seen.

Hamilton said she and the other organizers would continue to do anything they can to help Aiden.

She said the number of people who came Friday was better than she had anticipated.

Cherry Coppock, a Springfield resident, said it is good to see the community come “together for this little boy.”

Kenny Whitten said he doesn’t know Aiden but came after hearing that the first time Aiden’s mother was charged with abuse he was the same age as Whitten’s grandson is now.

“What could that child have done to those people,” Whitten said. He said he was also there to show support for the other family members’ grandparents, aunts and uncles who must be having a very difficult time.

Hamilton and Hardy also organized a group that met Sunday to hand out ribbons and fliers to support child abuse awareness in honor of Aiden at Wal-Mart. Members of the Rincon and Springfield fire departments also came with fire engines to show support for Aiden.

Hardy said the events are helping to get the work out that the community is going to work to stop child abuse.

The baby’s mother and father, Tina Richards and Phillip Waller, remain in custody. Richards has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault and cruelty to children. Waller faces charges of cruelty to children.