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Winner of Helping Hand Award gives gift to Aspinwall Riverfront Park project

Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Clay Sauereisen, winner of the Elijah Straw Helping Hand Award has chosen to use the donation to the Aspinwall Riverfront Park Fund in honor of Elijah's love for playing outside.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Clay Sauereisen is doing his part to help Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

Clay, 9, of O'Hara directed his $40 charitable donation from the Elijah Straw Helping Hand Award to the park project. That likely would have brought a smile to Elijah's face. Elijah had donated his piggy bank money when organizers were trying to buy the property.

“I saw that Elijah really liked parks, so I thought it'd be nice to give the money to the park,” Clay said.

Elijah died in a car crash on Route 28 last year. He was 6.

His family presents the award in his name to students at O'Hara Elementary School who have shown exceptional friendship and citizenship.

Six students in the Fox Chapel Area School District have won the award so far. Other winners are Kelly Kowalewski, Griffin Kerstetter, Annie Yonas, Brendan Kelly and Mikie Rice. Other organizations that have benefited include Animal Friends, Community Human Services and the American Red Cross.

Winners also receive a $40 gift card to Barnes & Noble, a certificate and a pizza party.

Jen Straw, Elijah's mother, said the award shows students that, even as a child, they can help others.

“We think it's a great way to teach that philanthropy at a young age,” Straw said.

Clay said he's especially excited about the prospect of playing on a playground made from earth mounds when the park opens to the public.

Laura Sauereisen, Clay's mother, said the park was a great place to donate the prize money and gave credit to the Straw family for its work. “We're so touched by the Straw family,” she said.

Development of the park is ongoing. It is not currently open to the public. For information, see

For information on The Elijah Straw Memorial Fund, see Donations can be made through the website.

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513, or

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