Teen Foregoes Shopping Spree to Help Children - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Teen Foregoes Shopping Spree to Help Children

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PHILADELPHIA -

 A local teenager cashed in when her parents hosted a party after her 13th birthday.  But she didn't spend her gift money on clothes or makeup, as any other teenager might have. 

Instead, she spent it on kids she doesn't even know, who desperately need a friend.

For more than 70 years, Pat the Bunny has brought comfort to young children, when no adult could quite fit the bill. 

The smile, the fur, a friend to pat. 

Her mom says it worked for Eloise Nimoityn. 

"She always used it to comfort her I guess when nothing else seemed to work," Hillary Nimoityn explained.  "And she thought it would be of comfort to other children." 

So Eloise bought 100 of them with money she received as gifts from her Bat Mitzvah, the Jewish rite of passage for girls. 

The bunnies weren't cheap.  "No, no, no!" Hillary Nimoityn said emphatically.  "She spent a lot of money and bought the bunnies and she attached little notes to each bunny, each is a hand-written note to a child."

One hundred hand-written notes, which read, "Pat the Bunny has always been a special comfort for me.  I hope you find the same comfort from Pat and enjoy his company." 

Hillary Nimoityn said her 13-year-old daughter spent hours writing them.  But why spend the time, when computers are so much easier?  "Because it's more special and from me," Eloise Nimoityn told Fox 29.

The bunnies will be given to kids now living in an emergency shelter, the only one in Philly for women and children who escaped from violent homes. 

"Half of the people we serve are kids under six years old," explained Jeannine Lisitski, the executive director of Women Against Abuse, the organization that runs the shelter. 

"So imagine, these children are coming with nothing," Lisitski said.  Eloise won't get to meet the children who will be receiving the bunnies, because many if not all of the kids are still too traumatized-- which is why she chose the organization.  She knew the children would need comforting.  "She was really attracted to this charity and felt that her bunnies could do the most good," Hillary Nimoityn explained.  

"It's really huge, it's bigger than what we might think," Lisitski told Fox 29.  Because Pat the Bunny is not just a stuffed animal.  For many young children, he's a symbol of a safe place. 

"This could be something that helps provide stability for the children and a way towards healing," Lisitski said.

In Judaism, a Bat Mitzvah marks the passage from being a girl to becoming a woman.  Eloise Nimoityn is well on her way.

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