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Greensburg girl aims to make life a little easier for foster kids

| Thursday, April 30, 2015, 6:17 p.m.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Elisabeth Grace Keller, 11, is on a mission to help foster kids in Westmoreland County. Elisabeth, with the help the Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau, have created Gracie’s Wish. She collects necessities that kids going into the foster care system would need, like toothbrushes, diapers, etc. and packs them into bags along with a handmade card.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Elisabeth Grace Keller, 11, and her sister Hailey, 21, are on a mission to help foster kids in Westmoreland County. Elisabeth, with the help the Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau, have created Gracie’s Wish. They collect necessities that kids going into the foster care system would need, like toothbrushes, diapers, etc. and packs them into bags along with a handmade card.

A Greensburg girl is doing all she can to make sure area children in a tough situation have some comforting items when they enter foster care.

Elisabeth Grace Keller, 11, said she wants to let those children know that someone cares about them.

“I just hope that they know that, no matter what, that somebody's always looking out for them,” Elisabeth said.

After watching a television commercial when she was 7 years old that highlighted children in need around the globe, Elisabeth was compelled to help children close to home, said her mother Kristin Keller.

After some discussion, Elisabeth is working with her mom to create a nonprofit called Gracie's Wish. Her idea is to pack bags with basic necessities and comforting items to be used by children entering a foster home.

“In foster care, a lot of times they don't get to take anything,” Keller said. “She has a huge heart for these kids.”

They have discussed a possible partnership with the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau.

Elisabeth had some help from a local Christian girls' organization recently during a bag-packing event at an area church.

“I have lots of things and I have a family and there are some kids out there” who aren't as lucky, said Elisabeth, a fifth-grader.

A donation drive at Westmoreland County Community College that wrapped up at the beginning of April was a success, said Casey Jarding, president of the Reach Out Christian Club, which partnered with four other student-run groups on campus.

They collected coloring books, small stuffed animals, clothing and baby items, said Jarding of Wyano.

“A lot of these children don't have belongings,” Jarding said. “They go into foster care with what they have on.”

“It was a great experience to be able to serve children,” she said.

Each of the bags will contain a written message from Elisabeth.

The note says “somebody cares for you and somebody loves you and to never give up,” she said.

Elisabeth hopes to eventually have bags prepared to be able to field emergency calls from the children's bureau.

“She's just always had a heart for kids that had less than her,” Keller said. “I'm very, very proud of her.”

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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