Strawberry pie makes for sweet memories and a Make-A Wish fundraiser

Ellie and her grandfather blow out the candles on her birthday cake. (Source: Ellie Stafford)
Ellie and her grandfather blow out the candles on her birthday cake. (Source: Ellie Stafford)
Ellie received a cutting board with her grandfather's Strawberry Pie recipe engraved on it from her Dad for Christmas. (Source: Jenna Stafford)
Ellie received a cutting board with her grandfather's Strawberry Pie recipe engraved on it from her Dad for Christmas. (Source: Jenna Stafford)
Each pie sold for Make-A-Wish has a personal card attached recognizing C.P. Stafford. (Source: Ellie Stafford)
Each pie sold for Make-A-Wish has a personal card attached recognizing C.P. Stafford. (Source: Ellie Stafford)
Ellie Stafford and her beloved grandfather, C.P. Stafford. (Source: Ellie Stafford)
Ellie Stafford and her beloved grandfather, C.P. Stafford. (Source: Ellie Stafford)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - She knows the recipe nearly by heart now. But, Arkansas State University sophomore Ellie Stafford will quickly tell you the recipe is not hers.

"Even if I'm making these for sixty years, they will never be my pies," Stafford said. "They will be his."

"He" was her "Pa-Paw," her grandfather, the late C.P. Stafford.

"I miss him more than I can say," Stafford said of her grandfather. "He came to every pageant, every ballgame, every spelling bee. Even if it was the most boring event that I didn't want to be at, he was always there."

C.P. Stafford passed away earlier this month—but not before sharing the secret to one of his best recipes. It was a family favorite: Strawberry Pie.

Ellie's mother, Jenna Stafford, shares a clip of video taken over the Thanksgiving break of Ellie in the kitchen with Mr. Stafford in his wheelchair.

With recipe in hand, Mr. Stafford calls out the ingredients and tells her how to carefully measure them. He leans forward to pull himself close enough to the cabinet to measure some of them himself.

"He loved making this," Stafford said. "Whenever we were at any dinner, I would say, 'Alright, Pa-Paw! Are you going to make the pie?'"

She points to a wooden cutting board hanging inside the kitchen. It was a handwritten recipe engraved deep into the wood.

"This is his handwriting and the recipe right there," Stafford points out. Her dad, Trey Stafford, had the recipe engraved on the cutting board as a Christmas present.

"There were a few tears shed during that," (Ellie) Stafford said. "But it is one of the most meaningful presents I've ever gotten and I know that when I have my own house, that will be in my kitchen and I still will be making those pies."

Right around this same time, Stafford had an idea to raise money for Make-A-Wish.

"All of a sudden, the idea of selling pies for Make-A-Wish came into my head," Stafford said. "So I went downstairs and told my parents. They fell in love with the idea."

Stafford posted on Facebook and the fundraiser took off.

"I ended up getting 30 requests for pies in three hours," Stafford said.

It's a family effort to deliver the pies and eventually she had to stop taking orders.

"People wanted four or five pies. I was completely overwhelmed," Stafford said.

So what would her Pa-Paw think of all this?

"I know that Pa-Paw was excited even though he is not here to experience this with me," Stafford said. "He's still here with these pies. This has his name written all over it."

Stafford, who is currently Miss River Delta, has actually raised money for Make-A-Wish in the past. She founded the Jonesboro Public Schools Make-A-Wish fundraising program which has raised more than $160,000 since 2006 and helped grant wishes to 12 local children.

Stafford has raised more than $37,000 since 2006.

Right now, she is trying to raise $8,000 by August 2018 to grant another wish. So far, she has raised half of it. If you would like to help her reach this goal, text the word "Ellie" to the number 77,000 to donate to her online Make-A-Wish donation page.

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