8-Year-Old Life Changes After Aunt Turns to Social Media for Help

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — At age 26, a Sioux Falls woman suddenly found herself caring for her 8-year-old niece.  That means she had to start from scratch, to find the basic things she would need.

She reached out on social media, and the response was overwhelming.

Angie Heater now has guardianship of her niece Ava since she says Ava’s parents needed help and aren’t in a good place to take care of her.

“When she came to me she just had the clothes on her back, and there was no way I could fund everything an 8-year-old girl needs,” says Heater.

The 26-year-old doesn’t have any children, so prepping for an 8 year old was a challenge. With hesitation heater turned to social media.

“I did not want to be bashed. I did not want somebody to tell me to get a job because I’ve got two,” says Heater.

Heater posted online asking for only gently used clothes and the response was amazing.

“Right away I just felt overwhelmed. It just blew my mind,” says Heater.

Ava now has a new set up which include shoes, clothes and toys.

“I was like no way. How did I get this stuff,” says Ava Shank.

This stuff includes a brand new pair of kicks that Ava couldn’t wait to wear out of the store.

“These shoes have holes in the bottom, but these shoes I just like how white and purple they were,” says Ava.

“I told her she could walk out of the store with it and she was like no way,” says Heater.

The 8-year-old is thankful for it all, but she does have a favorite.

“My bed because I’ve never had a bed before,” says Ava.

Heater says she can’t thank those enough for paying it forward.

“It’s made her life. She’s going to remember this forever, and I know she’s so grateful because that’s all I hear about is this and that this and that,” says Heater.

They plan on repaying the favor to make somebody else’s life.

“I want her to learn from her own personal experience what paying it forward means,” says Heater.

Ava has written thank you cards to everyone who has given her gifts.

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