Elle Project donates 475 hope bags to sick children - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Elle Project donates 475 hope bags to sick children

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WSIL-- On November 2nd, Christi Kearns began collecting items for Elle Project hope bags. The day marks two years since her daughter Elle was still born. 

"The Elle project bags all began two years ago when we lost our daughter Elle," Kearns says. "She had an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, so she was still born." 

Nurses gave Kearns a bag with a teddy bear and other inspiration items while being discharged,"They handed it to us and just said we don’t want you to leave the hospital empty handed."

Her family turned the tragedy in a way to help children and decided to use the nurses good gesture as an idea for hope bags to be given to children admitted to the hospital. "It wasn't joyful for us at the time, but we hope these bags will be joyful for the kids," Kearns says. 

The first year, family and friends donated 20 bags to Carbondale Memorial where Elle was born. 

However, following Kearns' Unsung Hero last month, donations started to flood in. Since then, Kearns and volunteers assembled 475 bags, far exceeding their goal of 300, and delivered to 11 hospitals.

A part of that is thanks to Marion High School student Libby Mayers, who chose to help as part of her service project hours. She started a drop box for donations at the school and was able to put together 30 bags just for Heartland Regional. 

"It feels really good knowing that I'm helping kids feel happy and that there's still hope in this world," Mayers says. 

Tara Little, who oversees the pediatrics floor, says a bag will be given to each patient that's a child or children visiting loved ones who are sick, "A lot of times when they are sick, they are not feeling real great. Once they receive the bags, it kind of brightens their spirit." 

This year, Kearns was also able to collect and donate 1,800 children's books to area hospitals. For 2019, she has set an even bigger goal of 2,500 books. 

Donations can be made at Extreme Kids in Marion or contact Kearns through the Project Elle Facebook page

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