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How you can help a Jacksonville veteran and his wife buy toys for children in the hospital

Eric and Heather Leide are devoted to bringing the gift of hope and comfort to families and patients in the Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

In this week's Stories of Service, First Coast News has an update on a military couple we've featured over the years. 

In the middle of the pandemic, Eric and Heather Leide started a non-profit called "Team A.Maise." Eric is the president. He's a sailor who retired from Naval Air Station Jacksonville in 2016 as a Petty Officer First Class. 

The Leides' goal is to bring the gift of hope and comfort to families and patients in the Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Units of Jacksonville hospitals. They started the non-profit after their daughter, Ashlyn Maise, passed away at only three months old from a rare and fatal developmental lung disorder.

"Unfortunately she passed away on December 4th of 2019.  As I saw her come into the world, I saw her take her last breath and I held her in my arms. We wanted her short life to have meaning.  We decided at some point there is something we want to do with her memory,"  Heather Leide said. 

RELATED: Stories of Service: Veteran and wife start non-profit after daughter's death

Credit: Eric & Heather Leide with Anthony Austin

This month, First Coast News Anchor Anthony Austin joined them for their second annual Baskets, Brews, and BBQ fundraiser at Ancient City Brewing in St. Augustine. Proceeds benefit children, families, and caretakers in Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive care units.  

Right now, they're collecting new, unopened toys for children of all ages to be donated to partnering hospitals all through the month of June & July and distributing them on what would have been Ashlyn's 3rd birthday, which is August 18th. They want to spread kindness and love on her special day. 

If you have a story of service to share, email us at storiesofservice@firstcoastnews.com.

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