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Teen creates 'coping bags' for kids who are grieving

Posted at 7:33 AM, Sep 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-12 07:41:27-04

FORT MYERS, Fla.-- Thanks to one special teen and the staff at Valerie’s House in Fort Myers, families at Golisano Children’s Hospital will get a lifeline after losing a loved one.

Austin Wolin created bags stuffed with items that will help comfort kids while they grieve. He said this is his way of giving back after Valerie’s House helped him through one of the most difficult parts of his life.

“I wanted the bags so they could have a blanket and a bear and something to keep their minds off of it for now so they can let it sink in in a proper area,” said Austin Wolin.

After losing his dad at a young age, Austin knew there was a big need for something like this.

“All they (the hospital) offered us was a meal ticket and a brochure to 'Help Hospice.' When I had that meal, it was probably the least I have ever eaten in my entire life.”

Austin admits he fell down a dark hole after losing his dad. It wasn’t until he found Valerie’s House— an organization that helps grieving kids and families— did his life finally turn around.

Members with the group were there the night Austin made each bag.

“His family was there, his mom was there, his fellow boy scouts were there," said April Rilley from Valerie's House. "All of them wanted to help him complete this project.”

Austin plans on giving Golisano Children’s Hospital almost 100 backpacks at the end of the month.

This whole thing started as his project for the Eagle Scout Award with the Boy Scouts of America. However, he saw this as an opportunity to give back to other kids and an organization that helped move on with grief.

“I was going to do this project no matter what," said Austin. "This meant more than anything to me. I wanted to give back to them."

Austin hopes to create more bags for firefighters, police officers, and hospitals to keep on standby.

You can click here to help donate to Austin's cause.