Three little girls in one neighborhood captured the essence of community giving when they learned a resident on their street was struggling with breast cancer. Morgan Flournoy, 11, and Ana and Maria Iguina, both 9, pooled their talents and resources and held their own fundraiser for Jennifer Hamilton, their neighbor in the Winter Garden subdivision of Sanctuary at Hamlin.
In just four hours, their efforts raised nearly $1,300 for Hamilton, who finished her last round of chemotherapy last month and had a surgery scheduled for this month.
Maria and Ana are students at Independence Elementary School. Maria made bracelets, and Ana created natural soaps and bookmarks. Morgan, a Bridgewater Middle School student, made soy candles. All three made charms for the fundraiser.
“We had met her husband and maybe her once or twice walking with her kids,” said Daryllynn Flournoy, Morgan’s mother. “The girls knew she had cancer and asked what they could do to help.”
The girls worked together morning and afternoon, said the twins’ mother, Carmen Ruiz-Iguina, drawing up their plans and executing them with the assistance of their families.
“When the girls came up with this idea, they realized they all had their own talents,” Flournoy said. “They all had their unique gifts to give to Jennifer.”
Morgan’s homemade soy candles came in two sizes and different scents, including some appropriate for fall and the Christmas holidays. She had made them but had never sold them before.
Ana’s soaps were made with organic materials, including goat milk, and were available in various shapes and colors. Maria’s bracelets were made with beads in assorted shapes and colors, too. They had been making their products this year and selling them to family members living in Puerto Rico but had not sold anything locally before their fundraiser.
The day of the sale was a success, as neighbors and friends flocked to the driveway tent to make multiple purchases in some cases. In addition to the homemade items, the girls sold snacks — cotton candy, brownies, chocolate cookies, water and lemonade.
Ruiz-Iguina said some people paid more than the asking price and others walking by that afternoon left donations.
“For a $12 candle, people were donating $20 or $30, so it was pretty awesome,” Flournoy said.
“We are so thankful of this community because the community responded … 100%,” Ruiz-Iguina said. “They supported them.”
The trio had set a goal of $500 but nearly tripled that through their sale. At the end of the day, they counted their proceeds and then eagerly delivered the bag of money to the Hamiltons.
The parents provided the tents for the sale in Morgan’s driveway and the funding for the materials so all of the proceeds could be given to Hamilton.
“They are so selfless,” Flournoy said. “They didn’t keep anything for themselves. We (parents) donated all the materials, so every penny went to that family.”
When the girls presented the money to the Hamiltons, Earnest Hamilton said the money will certainly help them with their insurance deductions.
Their kindness campaign actually started when they discovered there was a young girl in the household.
“Ever since they knew that Mrs. Hamilton was sick, they started sending their little girl something like a bracelet or a card or Play-doh at their door,” Ruiz-Iguina said. “They prepared a package, and they said, ‘Let’s go and leave that at their door.’ They knew the mom couldn’t be with the little girl as much as other moms could be with theirs.”
Jennifer Hamilton was diagnosed with triple negative stage 2B breast cancer in April. She said she was overwhelmed by the gift.
“I was shocked honestly that it was all their idea,” she said. “I just thought, ‘What amazing little girls.’ They must have a huge heart to think of that and to put all their energy into something that helps someone else. … They had a huge setup. … We knew they were doing it; we just didn’t know they were working this hard.”
The young entrepreneurs haven’t made solid plans for another fundraiser, but they have expressed an interest in raising money for children fighting cancer. They have another friend at school who would like to join them in their next venture.
“They have encouraged other people to join,” Ruiz-Iguina said. “The more people, the more they will be able to do that.”