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Ellie’s Elves: Shine Their Light In Our Community

Ellie's Elves: Shine Their Light In Our Community
By: Jennifer Surles

In February 1013, Carly and Richard Blaine embarked on a journey no person wants to take. Doctors diagnosed their beautiful two-year-old daughter Ellie with Pineoblastoma, a rare brain cancer. In the following months, individuals from across the globe came together to support the family and to shower them with love and prayers among many other gifts.

Ellie left this earth on December 22, 2013, and spent Jesus’ birthday wrapped in his loving arms where she will remain until joined by her parents and siblings in Heaven. However, Ellie’s story didn’t end when she joined her Heavenly Father. Her time here on earth inspired Joni Kanazawa to start Ellie’s Elves, a non-profit foundation to help cancer patients, their families, and any family in crisis.

Having experienced her own battle with cancer, Joni understood exactly what challenges the Blaine family and any family struggling with a cancer diagnosis experience. She brought the more than 1,500 people known as Ellie’s Elves together to ‘light the night for Princess Ellie’. People across the globe joined in, including individuals from Australia, Costa Rica, and Mexico. The candles lit the pathway to the celebration of Ellie’s life and her memory continues to light the way. In addition, candles were lit around the world in her honor by those who were unable to attend this event.

Today, Ellie’s Elves mission is to bring joy to individuals who are suffering from cancer and those who find their family is struggling in one or more ways. While many organizations focus on offering one or two services, Ellie’s Elves does it all. Whatever the family needs, Joni and Assistant Director Elizabeth Nast calls on the more than 3,400 Elves to see if anyone can be of help.

A young boy diagnosed with cancer only had a short time to live. Joni brought the elves together to create Whoville, his favorite part of the How The Grinch Stole Christmas movie, in his front yard. A smile overtook his face when he saw what had been done and that wasn’t all. Santa appeared to visit with him and share this special moment and the owner of a Lamborghini arrived to take him for a ride in his dream car. This is what Ellie’s Elves strives to do, bring people together to shine a light when things seem their darkest.

A young girl lost her father to cancer. The mom contacted Joni asking about a good place to buy the child a basketball hoop. Joni offered to ask on her page, and the mom was surprised to see she asked for a hoop to be donated rather than about the best place to purchase one. Not only was one gifted to this child, but it was delivered directly to the home on Mother’s Day. The mom and child arrived home from her basketball developmental league to find it in the front yard, a wonderful gift for both on what is meant to be a special day.

Another young boy lost his mother to cancer just days before his birthday. Ellie’s Elves wasn’t going to let him celebrate alone. Joni immediately started contacting people to help make the day special and to show him he was loved during a time when the family was grieving. The love and support the family received are sure to be a memory they will treasure for a lifetime.

Ellie’s Elves succeeds because many people with different talents come together to make things that might otherwise seem impossible happen. Cancer patients have enough bad things happening in their life. The organization works to show them the good that is still out there and in the form of thousands of people, many who have never met and don’t know the person or family they are helping. It’s about caring for others in a time of need and letting Ellie’s light continue to shine just as her smile lit up a room when she was here on this earth.

516 Project

516 Project

Passion into Action

516 Project Ministry started with passion–a passion to help those in need, to put boots on the ground, skilled hands on projects in homes for families that need help. Most importantly, to share the love and hope of Jesus. 516 Project is passion evolved into action.

In November of 2015 the first work day was scheduled. 30 volunteers worked on 10 houses doing winterization projects, repairing drywall, cleaning up yards, patching leaky roofs, fixing leaking bathroom fixtures and painting. The day was so successful, we started praying about permanently establishing a year-round volunteer construction ministry based in Fredericksburg.

“All the pieces just seemed to fall into place. I talked with my wife and said that if this is not what God wants me to do then I don’t know what is,” Roberson said. “I have been involved in Christian-based ministries before, so I wanted to continue doing that. I wanted to bring the church to the community.”

516 Project is Born

After some research, planning, and help from a few local businesses, Roberson founded the non-profit construction ministry 516 Project, Inc. in February of 2016. The Bible verse Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.” 516 Project assists local homeowners with home repairs that they either are not able to afford themselves or are not physically able to accomplish. The projects are funded through fundraisers as well as donations to the organization from churches, individuals and businesses.

“Everything that has happened has all been God’s work. When we come together and build a wheelchair ramp for someone that hasn’t had safe access to their home or replace a roof that’s been leaking, you can just watch the burden lift off their shoulders. You can literally see the joy and hope returning. I know this is something God wants us to do and keep doing,” Roberson said.

Ready to Help?

Now, in it’s 4th year, 516 Project is growing and filling many needs in the Fredericksburg region. 516 Project is volunteer operated. While much of the work is focused on home repair and construction type projects, there are opportunities for all skill levels and talents.

By serving you can be part of making a difference in the life of someone in need. 516 Project also relies on donations to purchase materials and tools needed to complete projects. You can sign up to volunteer or donate at www.516project.org or you can mail a check to 10908 Courthouse Rd. Suite 102148 Fredericksburg, VA 22408.

516 Project is a 501(c)3 non-profit so your donation is tax deductible.
Follow 516 Project on Facebook and Instagram @the516project