The garage at 12-year-old Carly Thomas' home is filling up, a stuffed polar bear atop the small mountain of treasures to be sold Saturday in Snell Isle's annual white elephant sale.
Those who stop at Carly's house will also be able to pick up homemade treats. The seventh-grader promises to bake brownies and chocolate chip cookies to tempt the bargain hunters expected to throng the northeast St. Petersburg neighborhood.
But some shoppers might want to pitch in a little extra at Carly's house, 332 Belleair Drive NE. Everything Carly raises will go to Milo Hill, a 3-year-old St. Petersburg boy recently diagnosed with leukemia.
Milo's mother, Jana Hill, a special education teacher at Meadowlawn Middle School, was touched when she learned of Carly's plan.
"It's very heartwarming. For her to think about Milo, who really she would see in passing, it's pretty amazing," she said.
Carly, the oldest of four girls, got to know Milo through her baby sister, Jenna. Milo and Jenna were in the same class at Temple Beth-El Preschool last year and became best friends.
"When I found out that Milo got leukemia, I got really sad," Carly said at her home Monday afternoon.
"I wanted to do something about it."
News of her effort has spread and Carly's stepdad, Lee Friedman, has been picking up donations of everything from furniture to clothes for Saturday's sale.
"My whole family has been involved, and Carly just spearheaded the whole thing," mother Amy Friedman said.
People are also giving cash. So far, more than $1,000 in donations has been received from friends, neighbors, family across the country and "people I don't know," said Carly, who attends Shorecrest Preparatory School.
She has embraced the cause as part of her upcoming bat mitzvah, which marks the coming-of-age of a Jewish girl. The life cycle event often is an occasion to do a mitzvah, or good deed.
Carly has gone through her room for items for the sale. "I have a lot of clean notebooks," she said, adding that she's also contributing "a lot of toys and stuffed animals I used when I was younger."
Besides, she said, "A lot of my friends are going to be baking."
Milo's mother said her son might make an appearance Saturday, depending on how well he does after a treatment scheduled for Friday. He had been ill for weeks before he was diagnosed with leukemia, she said.
They got the diagnosis on July 5. Since then, her husband, Sean, has been able to adjust his work schedule at the TradeWinds on St. Pete Beach to stay home with Milo, who is not in school this year.
The child's parents are grateful for the efforts of a 12-year-old with a retainer.
"Financially, we do have insurance, thank God, but it just means that we have to pay the out-of-pocket, plus medicines, so it is noticeable," Milo's mother said.
Milo is facing 3 1/2 years of chemotherapy, she said.
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.