Special to the Item
The Picayune Item
PICAYUNE — By Jodi Marze Lifestyles Editor Melinda Vitale Shaw responded to a daily devotional by Lourie Formby after the Feb. 4 passing of his only child, Ella Marie Formby. The entrepreneur and owner of MeLinda’s Fine Gifts saw where Formby had written about the foundation set up in his daughter’s name along with the subject of counting your blessings. “I saw his post and it just struck a chord,” said Shaw. “The ministry is such a worthy cause and Ella was such a beautiful light to everyone who knew her. We decided to start a two new designs with 20 percent of revenue going to her foundation, ‘Ella’s Light.’ “We debuted at the Street Fair and are already in our second printing. We are proud to say that we have sent the foundation their first check and hope many more will follow.” The first design features the theme “Count your blessings.” It is a design that is produced through MeLinda’s “Lifting it up” designs. Orders for the shirts have come in from Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and other states. The second design will be ready in a week and will be called, “Let your light shine.” Shaw said, “This fundraiser is not just for Lourie or his family — it is all about what the ministry stands for.” Formby and his wife Julie lost little Ella due to an accident caused by an allegedly drunk driver. The little girl fought bravely but succumbed to her injuries on Feb. 4 of this year. Formby said, “Ella passed on Fourth of February after 10 days of fighting for her life. We donated her organs and 10 people were confirmed recipients within four hours. It is possible that not all 10 received them but a good majority did. “People did receive life after our loss. At Ella’s funeral, Mark Prine, a fellow (National) Guard member, asked if they could start a foundation to help pay medical expenses. I told him no, but we could do something in her honor that would pass on the thing that made her happiest, and that was church. “Ella loved and was active in everything she could be part of in church. Our mission statement reads: ‘Children from birth are exposed to both positive and negative teachings and behaviors that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.... “Ella’s Light Children’s Ministry was created to keep Ella Marie Formby’s memory alive by ensuring that as many children as possible hear God’s word, come to know Him, develop a love and personal relationship with Him, and learn to serve Him through Christian programs and events provided by this ministry. We accomplish this by providing resources to rural churches or individual children as needed to glorify God and provide an environment that guides these children to a lasting relationship with God the Father, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Our goal is to minister to the whole child according to that child’s needs. Each child needs to be fed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. ...’” Formby acknowledged Shaw’s initiative and support for the newly formed 501C3 foundation with gratitude and said, “We are tickled pink to partner with her. We have received a check and I believe they are selling into their second production.” Ella’s Light Children’s Ministry also has a T-shirt and logo that it sells through its website www.ellaslight.org. Formby says the ministry is growing beyond his wildest dreams and the couple are being asked to speak at different functions and to various groups about their testimony, belief in God and the legacy left behind by a little girl whose name actually translates into “light” in several languages. For more information on Ella’s Light Children’s Ministry shirts at MeLinda’s Fine Gifts online at www.melindasfinegifts.com.