CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- A bright smile and bubbly attitude will be among the characteristics many say they'll miss about Elizabeth Collins.
Friends and family members will gather Thursday night to celebrate the short time the little girl spent on this earth.
"She loved to watch her mom dress up, but she loved to play hockey with her dad. She was just a combination kid. She was very bright and bubbly and she had a smile that will stay with you forever," said Friend of the Collins Family Sarah Curl.
The 8-year-old went missing on July 13 with her cousin Lyric Cook,10, after they were last seen riding their bikes near downtown Evansdale. Their bodies were found in a remote wildlife area in Bremer County last week.
The "Life and Love of Elizabeth Celebration" will be held at Heartland Vineyard Church in Cedar Falls from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m.
Many are planning to wear newly printed t-shirts with the words "They are home" to Elizabeth's ceremony.
Not too far from the church at Elizabeth's school, Poyner Elementary, kids are finding their own way to remember Elizabeth. One of the counselors and a kindergartner thought up an idea of making a chain of remembrance. It's now hanging in the entryway of the school building. About 500 kids designed the links with goodbye messages or designs that help them remember Lyric and Elizabeth.
School leaders say it is providing a sense of peace during the tough time, and it's a place for kids to go to think about the girls.
"It's a way that our kids and our staff can express what they are feeling and have a token to present to the families. And they are doing things like this at both schools that were directly affected, at Kingsley and Poyner," said Sharon Miller with the Waterloo Community School District.
Thursday, Dec. 13 marks exactly five months since the day the girls disappeared.
"It's going to be a rough day," said Friend of the Collins Family, Tabitha Luck. "This went on for way too long. I just hope they find the person or persons who did this."
Authorities believe the girls were abducted.
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