Group accepting gift cards for groceries and gas for family of beaten girl

EDMONTON - The founder of a group that helps child victims of sexual abuse says support has been pouring in from people who want to help a six-year-old girl who was badly beaten in Alberta.

Glori Meldrum of Little Warriors says it started when she and a friend dropped off some presents and a homemade quilt for the girl at the hospital on Christmas Day.

The girl from the Paul First Nation had been unconscious since she was found in the woods on Dec. 20, but Meldrum says she opened her eyes that day and spoke.

Meldrum says she and her friend wanted to do more, and representatives from the community suggested the girl's family could use gift cards for food and groceries.

Meldrum says it's an hour's drive from the community to the hospital in Edmonton, parking is expensive, and the family has other children.

The River Cree Casino near Edmonton has agreed to be a drop-off point for donations, and while Meldrum says she's been trying to set up a bank account, she says it's been difficult over the holidays.

"The reason that we're doing it is we want the little girl, and the mom and the dad, and the family and the community to know how much they're loved. Not only by Edmonton and Canada, but even in the U.S," said Meldrum.

"We've had an RCMP officer and a bunch of his friends that are firefighters put together a package for her, like an iPad and a whole bunch of other things."

"We've had people send flowers from Ontario, we've had people call from Michigan. It's been just wild."

The aboriginal girl had been missing for almost two hours when family members found her outdoors on the reserve. Various media reports have said she was found naked in the snow.

RCMP have arrested a 21-year-old man known to the girl.

Alberta Health Services said the girl's family is not authorizing the release of updates on her condition.

Meldrum, who is a survivor of sexual abuse, said the story really affected her.

"She's so little — six years old. I have a six-year-old daughter. They're so tiny. And the fact that it was so vicious. No child should ever experience that," Meldrum said.

Meldrum said she's hoping to collect toys for children under 12 as presents for other kids in the girl's community.

"We'd really like to give a gift to all the kids on the Paul band reserve because I'm sure they had a pretty tough Christmas."

Meldrum said that until a bank account can be set up, anyone from outside Edmonton who wants to donate gift cars or presents can send them to her business, G(Squared), 10615 124 St., Edmonton, T5N 1F5.

A co-manager for the Paul band has said a trust fund for the girl, likely in the name of "Christmas Angel," is planned.

James Clifford Paul faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping.

He is to appear in Stony Plain provincial court on January 7th.

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