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The love bug gets traction

Mother seeks help in starting foundation for late Colonie child

Rita Rizk, 4, died in September 2012. To keep her memory alive, her family set up a foundation to help other families in similar situations.

Rita Rizk, 4, died in September 2012. To keep her memory alive, her family set up a foundation to help other families in similar situations. Submitted Photo

— “It’s very, very expensive to live away from home in the hospital,” she said.

On Valentine’s Day, the foundation was officially established within New York State but in order to officially become a nonprofit, the Rizk family needs $1,500 to file the paperwork and another $800 to file with the IRS. Michella Rizk said if there is someone who could help fill out the paperwork it could help tremendously and cut out that extra $1,500.

To help raise some money to establish the nonprofit, Boutros Florist on Albany Shaker Road in Loudonville donated $1 for every dozen roses they sold on Valentine’s Day. They were able to raise $125, then the company itself donated another $500.

Kathy Boutros, of Boutros Florist, said she hopes other businesses will reach out and help the Rizk family.

“I think it’s very noble of her to start up something like this. I’ve seen … other family members struggling to go back and forth from where they’re located to the hospital,” Boutros said. “I wish there were more foundations similar to this out there to help other people.”

Boutros said they she will hold other drives at the flower shop during St. Patrick’s Day and Easter to raise money for the foundation.

Once the foundation is fully established as a nonprofit, Rizk said they hope to hold fundraisers and events to raise money to assist families in need. On Jan. 18, the family held a toy drive to honor the one-year anniversary for Rita’s heart transplant. After advertising on the Rita’s Love Bug Facebook page, more than 250 toys were donated, which were distributed to the Boston Children’s Hospital and Albany Medical Center. Rizk said they hope to make the toy donation a yearly drive.

“It was great. People just wanted to donate and help,” she said.

As a grieving but determined mother, Rizk is throwing herself into the work of Rita’s Love Bugs not only for those in difficult situations, but for herself.

“The time is passing more, but we’re missing her more and more. I feel like I’m doing this foundation so I have something to do in her name and keep her memory out there,” she said. “I know I’m doing something for her just to keep myself busy and keep her name going all the time.”

For more information or to help, visit the Facebook page “Rita’s Love Bugs.”

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