Six-year-old inspires community fundraiser for local family in need

by Mary McKenna

When 6-year-old Eila Nagle first learned her classmate’s house had burned down and that he wouldn’t be returning to school for the week, she could only think of one thing to do. “We have to help Elliot!” she pleaded.

Elliot Mang and his family lost their home and virtually everything they own to a house fire on March 7. Eila’s mom, Emily Nagle, said her daughter was so upset to hear the news from the school principal and guidance counselor that she came off the bus that day determined to do something about it.

She wanted to have a lemonade stand to raise money for the family, reported Emily, who remembered thinking with some misgiving that the weather was more suited to a hot chocolate stand and began redirecting her. Eila was open to new ideas, willing to bake cookies to sell, too, “and then it absolutely spiraled,” said Emily, who found herself, along with her husband, reaching out to local businesses for support, astonished at the immediate outpouring of donations and gift baskets.

“Ninety-eight percent of local businesses happily donated. What started as a lemonade stand turned into a hot chocolate stand, which snowballed into a bake sale,” she said. “In less than 72 hours, this town managed to pull off a full-blown fundraiser.”

No small feat for parents new to Hudson, doing their best to follow their daughter’s empathic lead while trouble-shooting the logistics of “hundreds of dollars in donations and people dropping off baked goods by the dozens,” seemingly overnight, according to Emily

“We just moved here from Texas this summer,” said Emily. “At Christmas time, I felt like I was living in a Hallmark movie with all the community things Hudson did. Now I feel like I’m really living in a Hallmark movie with how much this community has come together. It makes my heart burst!”

The newbie Nagles reached out to Mayor Jeff Anzevino for help.

“Eila’s father texted me and said ‘Hey, my daughter wants to do this. How do I do this in the city?’” recalled Anzevino. “I called the city manager and said, ‘Tom, can we get a permit for the green?’”

Anzevino said he had a permit for them the next morning. “I just connected some dots and they ran with it, and the community responded, and here we are,” he said.

Anzevino came to the fundraiser equipped with a pocket apron, ready to sell raffle tickets and baked goods alongside the Nagle family. The fundraiser was held at the First and Main Green on Saturday, March 11. Despite the cold temps, hundreds of people came out to support it. According to the Nagles, it was a huge success. Thirty gift baskets were raffled off and several tables of baked goods stood empty by the end of the fundraiser. The family delivered the money they were able to raise to the Mangs that same evening – a fitting gift, they learned, for a day that coincidentally turned out to be Pete Mang’s birthday.

“Hopefully we put a bright spot in his day,” Emily said. “Perfect timing in my opinion.”

Eila’s grandmother, Candice Lenart, who also came to the fundraiser, said she was just as overwhelmed by the generosity of the Hudson community as she was by her granddaughter’s compassion and insistence that the family act on it.

“This all happened standing around a kitchen table. I said I’ll come over tomorrow and start baking and then people started dropping off baked goods, and it was amazing,” she reflected. “And I said, ‘See, don’t ever think just because you’re little that you can’t make a difference in someone’s life.’”

Katie Mang thanked the community, including Eila and her family, for “the outpouring of support” via a Hudson Roundtable Facebook message.

“The care and kindness from you all is overwhelming,” she wrote. ∞

Featured Image: Eila Nagle, with the help of mom, Emily Nagle, and family and friends orchestrated a fundraiser for a classsmate who lost his home in a fire. Photo submitted.