Easter for Eli ‘springs’ into action


Photo courtesy of Randi Hovan

58 baskets full for those little kids who are not able to be home for Easter. The school all got together to make these baskets to send away.

To honor the little boy, Elias “Eli” Garrett and his fight with Non-Hodgkin’s T-Cell Lymphoma in 2009, schools all over the nation get their students to bring in items such as coloring books, toys, puzzles, stuffed animals, etc. to place in baskets for the little boys and girls who are hospitalized during the Easter holiday. In honor of Easter being right around the corner, the school’s students and staff put together a total of 58 baskets to donate to the Garrett family and their cause.

John Wharton is an eighth grade reading teacher, and he helps manage National Junior Honor Society. The students in the NJHS all got together and donated toys to the children to be placed in baskets.

“The honor society made up 33 baskets for the cause,” Wharton said.

The honor society is a contributor in the town; they help out with a lot of different programs.

“Both Mrs. Barry Kyle and I were encouraged and proud that even though we only required the members to bring in one item, they brought in more than necessary,” Wharton said.

Although the program has been going on for a couple of years now, the honor society just now started supporting the program.

“This is the first year we’ve done this; it is a worthwhile cause. It is something that we as an honor society relish; it is an opportunity to help people,” Wharton said.

Randi Hovan is a seventh grade reading teacher who organized the donation to the foundation.

“ I first heard about Easter for Eli around the same time that my youngest daughter was receiving care through Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for a congenital defect. We spent nearly a month in the NICU at the hospital following her birth, so I got to see firsthand how courageous and special the kids getting treatment there are. We were fortunate enough to be discharged,” Hovan said.

According to Hovan, she has sympathy for those children who are hospitalized due to previous experience with her daughter.

“I often think about all of the children who will be in the hospital to celebrate birthdays, holidays and other important events. I make it a goal to give back as much as I can, whether it is to CHP for providing such quality care or directly to the kiddos who are there fighting,” Hovan said.

The baskets have been made and are on their way for donation,

“When I counted a whopping 58 baskets this year, I was beyond thrilled. I am so very proud of our students and staff for contributing to such a worthwhile cause, and I can only hope that next year’s total is even higher,” Hovan said.

All across Pennsylvania and Maryland 1,800 baskets were created and $4,500 dollars worth of gift cards were donated. The father of Eli appeared on Central PA Live on Feb. 26, 2018 to speak about what they do for the children in hospitals.

There are multiple drop off locations in the Altoona area if anyone would like to donate to the foundation in the future, some of them are: Scissor Hands, Sam’s Club, Bradley Books and Parlor Salon.