Update: February of 2002
The judge sent Ashleigh to live with her mother. A copy of the mother's felony conviction in the abuse and loss of her son is located on the website listed above.
Update: May 17, 1999
Today I spoke with Linda Lukasik, who is the director of TLC Program, Kids in Distress. She had received the package for Ashleigh that included: the suitcases and beanie Kid, with a spare set of Ty Gear clothes, and Sherbert the Pillow Pal. According to Linda, she had not even opened the package! She said there is a court order from the District Attorney stating that Ashleigh is not to receive anything from any outside source! She said she only has two choices: return the package or possibly give it to Ashleigh if she leaves.
This is absolutely ridiculous! We are asking everyone to write a letter addressed to Governor Bush's Aide:
Margaret C. Cook
Aide to Governor Bush
Office of Citizens' Services
State of Florida
Tallahassee, FL 32300-0001
Dear Ms. Cook:
Our organization, Hope4KidZ, Inc., in Austin, Texas, took up donations to send a gift including: A suitcase and carry bag, filled with a Beanie Kid and a spare set of Ty Gear clothes, and Sherbert the Pillow Pal. We have been notified by Linda Lukasik, Director of TLC Program, that the District Attorney has ordered Ashleigh is to receive no gifts from anyone. We find this to be ludicrous! This is a birthday gift for a child we have no legal involvement with whatsoever. We simply wanted to Give A Six Year Old Child a Smile and the district attorney wants to turn it into some big ridiculous legal issue.
My hope is that you will realize the importance of such a small gift to a child and speak with whomever is needed to assure Ashleigh receives at least the doll with clothes and stuffed animal. We do not care if you tell her it came from Governor Jeb Bush; our only intent is to give her the suitcases for when she needs them and the doll to play with and the Pillow Pals are the greatest sleeping pals. To deny Ashleigh this birthday present is spiteful and mean spirited. I cannot think of another reason the District Attorney would impose such an order and have never heard of anything like it... ever!
I would appreciate a response and any effort you will make in order to assure Ashleigh receives these simple gifts.
Your Address or email
Follow up on your letter to verify the Governor's office actually receives it by calling Margaret Cook at 850-488-7146. It is very important to send this regular mail. If you are a regular member of this group and cannot afford the phone call, please Email us and we will give you the ability to call with a card.
Thank you to each individual who assisted with this project.
We collected 125.00 to purchase this for Ashleigh and with shipping costs via UPS Ground, the total cost was 173.00 and the D.A. is refusing to allow her to have it, even when it is her birthday. I spoke with Jeb Bush's Assistant and Maggie is not the person who deserves venom. I would imagine if the decision were hers to be made, she would simply give Ashleigh her present.
No child should have to be taken from their home when they are not the one who did anything wrong, but for now, that is how the system attempts to deal with the problem, perceived or otherwise, at hand. I grew up poor but my stuff was very important to me.
There is no dignity in throwing your most prized possessions; your only possessions, in a garbage bag.
While we fight for the children's rights out here, they could use some encouragement and dignity.
Hope4KidZ, Inc. will be randomly giving out suitcases like the ones in the photos, with child's first name only. This was Ashleigh's birthday so it is probably a little more than what we can normally do. I don't want to give away the surprise of what is in them until she has time to get it. The suitcases will always have the child's name painted on it, at the very least. We had five individuals donate and we thank you each and every one, some individuals requested anonymity and I respect that.
If you would like to help send a suitcase to a child,
Puff paints for fabric in (bright colors)
Other bright colored paints for fabric
And of course, money to purchase the suitcases.
A donation of any type that gets a suitcase to a child: Donation