Young girl's death inspires new backpack program to provide meals for kids in need

They need your help to raise funds

PHOENIX, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - A young girl's devastating death is now inspiring work to protect other children. Prosecutors say eleven-year-old Erin Maxwell was often left without food before she died in filthy conditions.

"We tend to think that things aren't going to happen in our small little worlds and when this happened, it shook, it really shook our town," said Michele Hawthorne.

To keep others from going hungry, they're founding Erin's Angels, a backpack program in the Phoenix Central School District that will give kids snacks to last through the weekend.

"I think it's nice to give her name a legacy that's positive and that's growing something beautiful, instead of something so sad," said Hawthorne.

But they need help. They need nearly $5,000 to provide the food needed for an entire school year. They currently have a little over a $1,000.

"It really does need to be a community-wide effort, you know it takes a village and that's what it's going to take to make this happen," said Sheila Dion, Founder of Erin's Angels.

If you would like to donate you can go to

Or you can mail a check to Carolyn McKay at Southern Oswego County Council of Churches at 1012 County Rt. 12, Pennellville, NY 13132.

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