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INDIANAPOLIS — On Friday, as Hoosiers across the state worked to dig out after a winter storm impacted the region, one family in Irvington found a way to help pay it forward, while also lending a hand to those who needed it.

“It helps a grieving heart just by doing sometimes and sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to do when you’re in a state of grief,” said Michelle Baker.

Right now the Irvington community is rallying to honor one of its own students, 7-year-old Hannah Crutchfield, who was struck and killed by a car while walking home from school in September of 2021, by raising money to build a playground in her memory.

Michelle said her family, particularly her three daughters, Samantha, Hattie and Lucy, was close with Hannah and wanted to find a way to help bring awareness to the efforts to build a permanent staple in the community in her memory.

“Samantha here actually had the idea of wanting to do a lemonade stand and all of the money that she would earn from the lemonade stand, she would put into the effort of building this fundraiser because it’s very important to them and their peers at school and all of the families in the community, really, to build this bright, new space in honor of Hannah, so it’s just been a really touching story for us,” said Michelle.

Cold weather, snow and lemonade stands don’t mix as well as one would wish, so the idea of shoveling to help pay it forward, was born, said Michelle.

“I was watching my husband shovel our sidewalks and neighbors out and I just had the idea of, maybe we can get out there and get a little exercise in, help some neighbors out if they need help shoveling their driveways, and whatever money they would like to pay us for our efforts, really, we would like to donate for the playground,” she said.

They grabbed their shovels and started getting to work.

“We were just going to go door-to-door. We printed some flyers off of the IPS Fundraiser website that we created and we printed some papers out, but we had so many inquiries from neighbors nearby, so we loaded up the shovels in the back and we made a list, but unfortunately we couldn’t get to as many were reaching out,” said Michelle. “We honestly were pretty moved by the amount of people who were reaching out and saying they needed help and would love to donate.”

Michelle said she put a post in the local Facebook chatter page, offering help shoveling to anyone who might need it and also shared information on the fundraiser for the new playground in Hannah’s memory.

The post even garnered the attention of one man, who said he lived out of state and had no need for the help, but still wanted to donate.

“It really does take a lot of effort from everybody to spread the message. Honestly it’s very heartwarming,” she said. “Social media can be a really great thing when we use it that way.”

In total, Michelle said they were able to raise more than $135 through their efforts, which went directly towards the fundraiser to build the playground.

“Every dollar helps, because we have a really big goal in mind,” said Michelle. “It felt really good to put in some hard work and support this really important cause.”

If you’re also interested in contributing to the project, parents have set up a donation site.