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Local business owners rally to support Eli Hart on what would have been his 7th birthday

Several business owners donated 10% of their sales this Thursday to help the family build a playground in Eli's memory.

MOUND, Minn. — Friends and family are honoring the life of Eli Hart this week.

Thursday would have been Eli’s 7th birthday.

Eli was allegedly killed by his mother Julissa Thayer back in May.

Her trial is still pending.

Friends and community members gathered at Back Channel Brewing Thursday night to honor Eli’s memory.

The event was also part of a fundraising drive to build a playground in honor of Eli.

Several local businesses pledged 10% of their sales to help the cause, including Back Channel Brewing, Carbone’s Pizza in Mound, Culver’s in Navarre, and Ooh La La Boutique.

At Carbone's Pizza in Mound, the loss of Eli Hart is still felt by many.

"A number of our servers were touched when they found out what happened because they remember Eli coming in here with his dad,” owner Matt Willette says.

That connection is why Willette felt a strong need to help the family in any way he could.

"It was definitely an absolute yes,” Willette says.

"We thought it would be a really great opportunity for the community to come together."

Organizers with the family's nonprofit met at Carbone's Thursday morning to go over design ideas for the playground.

They're hoping to have renderings soon.

But they say the playground will definitely include monkey bars, Eli's favorite, and it should cost somewhere around $200,000.

Tana Denarvaez at Ooh La La Boutique says building a new playground is a fitting way to honor Eli's memory.

She says the playground at Surfside Park in Mound is getting old and could use an upgrade.

“We’ll definitely bring our kids there and laugh and have fun times and make sure that we’re celebrating Eli,” Denarvaez says.

The community also has a GoFundMe page to bring in donations.

As of Thursday night, the GoFundMe page had brought in nearly $18,000.

Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.

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