Alia Baliey’s teachers, family and friends all mentioned her beautiful smile as they remembered her. Alia was known as a girl scout, dancer and a good student, who genuinely enjoyed being in school.
She was only 6-years-old when she was killed in a multi-vehicle car crash in Elyria back in January.
News 5 visited Grindstone Elementary School, where her kindergarten teacher was sifting through donated gifts. Teacher Amy Murray is hoping to make a difference this holiday season while keeping Alia’s memory alive.
Murray said she wanted to honor Alia’s life since this will be her family’s first Christmas without her.
“I think about her a lot, and I think about her family, and having children of my own and being a Kindergarten teacher, this time of year is so exciting for them,” Murray said. “The countdown to Christmas and finding the elf.”
Murray was Alia's kindergarten teacher before Alia moved on to first grade. Her first-grade teacher Carla Mandao also came in to help.
“Alia was full of life, she loved everyone,” Mandoe said. “There wasn't an adult in the building that she wouldn't stop and hug and smile.”
Alia's friend Jaina Cormack said she and Alia became friends because they both loved school and playing tag at recess.
“She never had a frown on her face,” Cormack said. “She was always talking about her dog, and she was a really good friend.”
Alia's mother Nancy Burnett told News 5 that Alia was her one and only child. Back in January, on the day of the crash, she said she was driving her daughter to get lunch. She described it as an ordinary Sunday.
“Alia had won a gift certificate to Long John Silver's that day,” said Burnett. "She said I think I want to use my gift certificate. We were just five minutes from our house and never thought our whole life would change.”
Alia's mother said through the ups and downs, parents should cherish the times they share with their kids.
“When your kid does something that makes you go, ‘ugh!’ It's not that bad when you think about it… Just enjoy life with your children, because you never know,” Burnett said.
The special gift drive will take place on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Berea Elks.
All of the donated gifts will go to pediatric patients at Metro Health Hospital where Alia was born and where she was treated before she passed away.