As you may know a member of our community, Elijah Straw, and his family were in a serious car accident this past Tuesday night. Sadly, Elijah died. He was six years old and in the first grade at O'Hara Elementary School with many of our children, played baseball for the Aspinwall Royals, and was a regular at Squaw Run Park.
Elijah's parents, Tom and Jen, and his little brother were also injured, but are thankfully recovering.
Understandably, this tragedy has hit the community, like the family, very hard. People want to know what they can do to help and are looking for information how. Also people want to know about funeral arrangements. This is the purpose of our email.
FIRST - What you can do for the family:
1. Food: Elijah's parents were injured in the accident and their mobility will be limited for some time. They will need help with food for the foreseeable future. A website has been created where people can sign up to deliver food on a particular day. Please freeze whatever you make and put it in a dish that you don't expect to get back. Also, Giant Eagle gift cards are welcome. There are instructions for where to deliver the food (or gift cards) on the site which can be found at: http://www.TakeThemAMeal.com/meals.php?t=RVLN6526.
2. Fund: A fund has been created in Elijah's Memory at PNC Bank in Aspinwall. Donations can be made to the "Elijah Straw Memorial Fund." Money can be donated in three ways:
Hand-delivery to the Aspinwall PNC Bank branch;
Mailed to the Aspinwall PNC Branch at 101 Brilliant Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15215-3119
By going online to www.aspinwallpa.com: there will be a "donate" link which will permit you to give a donation to this account (please note that this online "donate" link should be up and running on the aspinwall website within the next 24 hours)
3. Flowers: Elijah's favorite colors were purple and yellow. Aspinwall Borough has received a donation of purple and yellow flowers and will be planting them throughout the neighborhood. This is also being done at the Cooper-Siegel Library and Squaw Run Park, two of Elijah's favorite places. O'Hara Elementary has plans to do so as well. We also ask, as a demonstration of community solidarity, that people plant purple and yellow flowers in their front yard or, in the alternative, hang purple and yellow ribbons on their homes in memory of Elijah.
4. Space: In times like these, a person's first impulse is to go to the family and offer their condolences, share stories, and talk about what happened. We've spoken with Tom and Jen and they ask that people please refrain from doing so (for now). As you all can imagine, they are suffering from unimaginable grief and trauma and their emotions are very raw. While they don't want to be ignored in the community, they also don't want to discuss Elijah's death at this time. They hope you understand. Also, we've heard numerous reports of children writing letters to Elijah and to the family. If so, we ask that those letters be given to their teachers for collection and we will deliver them to the family at the appropriate time.
SECOND, the funeral:
1. The funeral will be held on Monday, May 7th at 10:00 a.m. at St. Scholastica Parish located at 309 Brilliant Avenue in Aspinwall. The funeral is open to the public and the community is encouraged to attend. If you plan on bringing your children please know it will be closed casket service. Also, it has been suggested by the Parish that parents talk to their children before-hand to help them visualize what the funeral service may be like so they can be mentally prepared. While the funeral is open to the community, please understand, given the magnitude of this tragedy, that Elijah's parents will not be ready to talk to anyone at the funeral and there will be no visitation beforehand. Your presence at the funeral, however, will speak volumes.
2. Following the funeral, there will be a reception at the St. Scholastica Parish. Elijah's parents do not plan on attending. Their family, many of whom are from out-of-town, will be in attendance. The entire family is very, very aware of the community's overwhelming response and want to personally thank you all at the reception. So please come.
FINALLY, as friends of the family, we thank you all. From the emergency responders, to the friends and neighbors, to the school district, to the members of local businesses who made donations and offered free services, to the council members who made things happen, and to all the countless number of people who have already made unbelievable and generous donations of both their money and time. It will never be forgotten.
With the utmost gratitude, your friends and neighbors,
- Friends of the Straw family