CHS Student is Supporting Families While Raising Money for Riley Hospital for Children

Photography Provided by Brian McGuckin

Baskets of Blessings is a fundraising project developed by Carmel High School junior Elizabeth McGuckin that not only benefits Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis but also supports the families of sick children. Visitors to its website can purchase a gift basket to be donated to a mom, dad, brother or sister or an ill child as well as make a donation. The concept is the result of a sincere desire to help others.

When McGuckin was in eighth grade, she took a mission trip to Haiti. Interested in the cultures of different countries and a French student, it seemed like it would be a fun adventure. At the time, she didn’t realize that her experience there would impact a major part of her future extracurricular activities. It was the catalyst that spurred her on to become involved with Carmel High School student government and their efforts to raise funds for Riley.

“I had no idea what an impact that trip would make on me,” McGuckin says. “I saw so many malnourished and sick kids. I thought to myself, if I can’t do something for kids there, I can do something for sick kids at home.”

When she entered high school McGuckin was attracted to Carmel High School’s House of Representatives since they plan and run several philanthropic-based activities. After a lengthy application and interview process, she was selected to be part of the cabinet.

Besides being chairmen for school-sponsored charitable events, cabinet members individually pledge to raise at least $1,234.56 for Riley Hospital. McGuckin has challenged herself to exceed that goal and is hoping to obtain $2,500. The cumulative results of everyone’s fundraising efforts are revealed during Carmel High School’s Dance Marathon benefiting Riley Hospital held each February. One of the ways students fundraise is through door donations or selling items such as cookies, but McGuckin wanted to try something different and created Baskets of Blessings.

Her inspiration came from a family who attends her church — Antioch Community Church. Chad and Charis Freije have four children, one of which recently won the fight against childhood cancer. After speaking with them, McGuckin realized that the parents and siblings of sick children need support. Her concept was born, which involves raising money by selling gift baskets that are then donated to families with a child at Riley.

Initiating the idea has taken time. The Freijes helped her decide which items — like snacks, coloring books, neck pillows and more for hospital overnights — to include in the baskets. Then she developed a website, choosing one that was free yet easy for people to use. Visitors can type a personal note as well as message McGuckin any questions they have.

Hopeful that she will make her goal by February 23, McGuckin is striving to get the word out about Baskets of Blessings. To visitors on the website she says, “You are making more of an impact than you could ever know.”

For more information about Baskets of Blessings visit

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