Get the latest from TODAY
Sophia Feller feels her dad's presence on a daily basis.
Whether the 9-year-old girl is admiring a picture of the two of them on her bedside table or writing down memories they shared, she's determined to keep his memory alive.
"Before she could even write, she had me jotting down memories for her every time she thought of one," Courtney Feller, Sophia's mom, told TODAY.com.
Her father, Nicolas Feller, was killed Sept. 24, 2012 after a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel while the construction-company owner was putting reflectors on a Tennessee highway.
"We're always looking for ways to honor Nicolas and thought about getting involved in highway patrol, but there's only so much you can do," Feller said.
Shortly after moving from Cincinnati to Summit County, Colorado, in August, in hopes of getting "a fresh start," Sophia was writing in the journal dedicated to her dad when she came up with the idea to start writing to other kids who have lost a loved one.
"Many kids don't know what to do or how to react, so I love that Sophia wants to share what she's learned over the past three years and hopefully they can follow a similar path," Feller said.
On the third anniversary of her dad's death this past September, she started a nonprofit organization called Heaven Sent It, where she puts together personalized care packages for each child. Each package includes a letter from Sophia, a journal, a necklace, a memory box for pictures and a picture frame, like the one Sophia keeps next to her bed.
"It makes me happy because it helps me think about my dad while getting to help others," Sophia told TODAY.com. "I just want them to smile and not be sad for a long time like I was."
She's already brought smiles to the faces of 20 grieving children and just received emails from 23 interested kids over the weekend.
In hopes of getting funding and increased engagement, Sophia has been writing letters to organizations that work with bereaved children. In the meantime, Feller is happy to contribute to her daughter's beautiful idea, and even their local police officer lent a hand.
On Saturday, they surprised Sophia at the Silverthorne Police Station, where Santa was waiting with a big sack full of toys for her care packages, along with some for her and her 5-year-old brother, Quinn. They also handed the third-grader packages filled with journals and memory boxes. Additionally, they're dedicating a 10-hour shift in her dad's honor.
"It's been very therapeutic for her," Feller said. "She offers a real value for kids who don't know how to deal with loss."
"My hope for them is to know they aren't alone," Sophia said.