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The Elle Project Donates to SBL

December 21, 2023 3:28 p.m.

  • Elle Project, SBL, gifts for kids

For the last four years, Charleston residents Ava Gardner and her mom, Michelle Gardner, have created and donated “Hope Bags” to Sarah Bush Lincoln and other hospitals. They collected donations and items to help fill the bags for children in the hospital, along with her team members at the Mattoon Academy of Dance and Gymnastics in Mattoon. The bags are filled with coloring books, crayons, play dough, bubbles and small toys.

Called ‘The Elle Project,’ Gardner has donated more than 500 Hope Bags to hospitals. Collection sites included Mattoon Academy of Dance and Gymnastics and the Edward Jones Office in Charleston. Donations came from Mattoon, Charleston and Paris residents. The Elle Project was started in 2016 as a remembrance of Elle Sean Kearns. Her family came up with the idea to donate toys and books to a Carbondale hospital the week before Christmas. The project has grown to include donations to 15 hospitals this year. Because of people like Ava, Michelle and those at the Mattoon Academy of Gymnastics, Sarah Bush Lincoln received this wonderful gift.

Pictured is SBL Emergency Room Manager Dillon Kircher, Michelle Gardner, Ava Gardner, SBL Women& Children’s Center Director Cindy Rivas, Women & Children Center staff Maddie Kabel and Katie Vegan.