Comfort for others: Kent girl leads blanket drive for hurricane victims

Ella LaVoie, middle, with friends, Katelynn Bissell, left, and Isabella Souts make blankets for victims of Hurricane Sandy.  - Tracey Compton/Kent Reporter
Ella LaVoie, middle, with friends, Katelynn Bissell, left, and Isabella Souts make blankets for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
— image credit: Tracey Compton/Kent Reporter

Eight-year-old Ella LaVoie has so much compassion she's taken it upon herself to organize a blanket-making and collection project for Hurricane Sandy victims on the East Coast.

The Kent girl began the project the day before Thanksgiving and hasn't stopped.

"I felt like it just looked terrible," Ella said of the news coverage of the storm. "I saw people walking and the water was up to their waists, cars being flooded, and it just looked super bad."

Ella, who attends Martin Sortun Elementary School, was inspired to act because of the charitable giving her parents and friends participate in and her family's recent experiences.

The day after Ella's family came home from the hospital following her younger brother, Brogan's, brain surgery, is the day she saw the hurricane coverage.

She told her mother, Nicole, she wanted to help, and her mother told her to pray.

"And she looked at us and said, 'I will, but that's not enough. What else can we do?'" Nicole said.

A bit overwhelmed after her son's surgery, Nicole didn't know what to do.

She enlisted the help of a friend at church who helped Ella organize a bake sale.

Soon, nearly $900 was raised.

Then a teammate, Beth Whitton, from Valley Girls and Guys Three-Day Breast Cancer Walk, suggested the blanket project.

On Dec. 2, Ella hosted her first blanket-making party at Greaney Law Firm and received $300 in donations from the attorneys.

She also will receive donated material from Joann Fabric and Craft Stores to make 40 more blankets.

Ella has collected about 150 blankets that World Vision is expected to ship to the East Coast.

Ella's mother couldn't be more proud of her.

"It makes me feel comfortable knowing that the younger generation is going to come up doing these good things for other people," Nicole said.

Ella has seen a lot of fundraising and selfless acts in her young life, her mother said.

Nicole has lost two aunts to breast cancer, in addition to her son contending with a brain tumor.

The LaVoies don't have any family or friends on the East Coast affected by the storm.

"I sort of know how it feels, but not as bad because my brother, he had brain surgery twice," Ella said. "It was not long after his brain surgery that I heard about Hurricane Sandy."

Ella takes her Girl Scouts membership and pledge to help people at all times seriously, she said.

New blanket donations have been dropped off at Trapper's Sushi locations. Donations also can be dropped off at Greaney Law Firm, 124 Fourth Ave. S., Suite 240, Kent.

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