An Orange City, Iowa toddler has died from head injuries police say came at the hands of her daycare provider. Three-year old Autumn Elgersma died October 31 at a Sioux Falls hospital. More >>
According to Orange City Police Chief Jim Pottebaum, Rochelle Sapp later admitted that she threw the girl to the floor after she refused to take off her coat.More >>
ORANGE CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
"She was full of life, and she loved others. That was her gift, was loving others," Rachel Lamfers, Autumn's aunt said.
One week ago, life changed forever for Autumn Elgersma's family.
The three-year old was taken to the hospital after an incident at her daycare facility. Two days later she died.
The investigation into her death is ongoing, but today, the family focused on a celebration of the life of three-year old Autumn.
There was hardly an empty seat in Calvary Christian Reformed Church today as the community gathered to celebrate the life of Autumn.
They joined her family to focus on everything that Autumn loved, and her ability to love others.
On July 14, 2010, Autumn Lynn Elgersma was born to parents Phil and Jen Elgersma, older sister Faith, and older brother Jared in Orange City, Iowa. From that day forward, her family says she was a blessing to everyone she met.
"We happened to get together just last week Sunday, so that was the last time that I saw her. Right before she left, I picked her up for a hug and a kiss and she was telling me what she was going to be for trick-or-treat. That will always be a good memory," Lamfers said.
Autumn passed away on October 31, just 3 years and three months after she was born.
Though her chapter in the book of life was short, her family held a Celebration of Life service rather than a funeral to celebrate the time they did have together, and to find comfort in the situation through faith.
"We would have liked to see her grow up, go to kindergarten, be involved in more of the ministries of this church, as of course her parents must feel much more. But we are grateful that the days ordained for us were all written in God's book before one of them came to be," John Klompien, Pastor of Calvary Christian Reformed Church said.
The service focused on all of Autumn's favorites: taverns, Christian rock music, Dora the Explorer, and playing dress-up.
The Elgersma family walked in hand-in-hand to an already full room singing them Autumn's favorite song, "Jesus Loves Me."
"The church and the community are hurting. We've all lost something dear in Autumn. We love her, and we want to support and care for those that hurt," Klompien said.
While it's been a difficult process for the family and community, those close to the Elgersmas say they're finding comfort in the love of their family and their memories of Autumn as they move through this difficult situation.
"Being together as a family through all this, just a lot of hugs and a lot of 'I love you's.' When something like this happens, it just makes you realize what the important things are in life, and that's family," Lamfers said.
Phil and Jen Elgersma say it's important to them to thank the community for all of their support through the last week as their family deals with everything surrounding the situation.