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Upcoming yard sale will help purchase autism service dog

Amanda and Travis Denis are pictured with their children, Mick, Eli, Amelia and Oliver. [SPECIAL TO THE NEWS BULLETIN]

CRESTVIEW — A neighborhood has banded together on a county level to assist a local family raising funds for a service dog.

Amanda and Travis Denis have four children between them: Mick, 17; Eli, 5; Amelia, 3; and Oliver, 2.

Eli was diagnosed with autism at age 3.

As he grows, his mom said, his behaviors are changing. He has issues with elopement meaning he will run away from them in overstimulating situations.

"A dog would help him to stay with us and learn better coping skills instead of running. The dog would help him with (anxiety) in public places, keep him calm by laying on him and providing him deep pressure when he gets very upset.

"The service dog will also help him communicate … it would be a communication starter in a way. He has a hard time talking to people he doesn't know. He has a hard time verbalizing his thoughts and his feelings. If the dog can be a conversational starter, that might help him to be able to verbalize a little bit better," she said.

The Denises have been holding one yard sale a month to raise the $10,000-plus required for Ohana K9 Lifeline to purchase and train the dog. There's also a Gofundme page (https://bit.ly/2SUme6T). The Denises estimate it will take about a year to secure the funds.

Their neighbors have also joined in. They are hosting a multi-family yard sale at 10 a.m. Jan. 18 and 7 a.m. to noon Jan. 19 on Grand Prix Drive.

"Several families have signed up to do this, and also, many people in the community have been donating items for the last two or three weeks — furniture, clothing, household items. There's also going to be a bake sale going on," Amanda said.

One neighbor and her husband made several trips to Fort Walton picking up furniture and other yard sale donations. Another, Moe, owner of Moe's Custom Graphics, is selling T-shirts on the company's Facebook and Instagram pages.

"I really want to thank the community of Okaloosa County for coming together and donating. From what I've been told through my neighbors, it's going to be amazing," Amanda said.

Visit https://bit.ly/2ssCIHV for more about the yard sale.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: Upcoming yard sale will help purchase autism service dog