When summertime hits, many children will set up shop on their block with a lemonade stand for some extra pocket money.
Four young Winter Garden residents recently came up with another idea to generate some cash — but for a cause much bigger.
Sedona Vega and Gianna Senges, 11; Libby Kohmetscher, 9; and Skyla Vega, 8, were the masterminds behind the Sunny Car Wash fundraiser for Matthew’s Hope.
The four girls hosted the car wash over two days in their neighborhood, Lake Cove Pointe. The idea was to raise money to provide quarters to Matthew’s Hope for the “laundry ladies” to use, and their goal was $100 with a stretch goal of $150 if they could do a good job.
And the Lake Cove Pointe community showed up.
“It was kind of my idea for the car wash, but then we didn’t know really what it was gong to be,” Sedona said. “I came up with the idea to kind of maybe do a little car wash, make $100 for a charity. We didn’t know what charity at the time, but we were kind of passionate about Matthew’s Hope.”
“We really want to help the homeless, and now that we see more people being pushed out (on) the streets because all the homeless camps are being shut down, we kind of want to help them a little bit more to grow their space and spots to live,” Skyla added.
The two sisters were joined by their friends, Gianna and Libby, who wanted to help however they could. The girls sent out polls to neighbors, who filled in a 30- to 45-minute time slot to have the girls wash their cars. In the end, they had 21 cars to wash.
“I wanted to get involved because it’s a big deal being homeless, and if we can help a bit more, it just makes your heart feel better,” Gianna said. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s a lot of people that want to help the community,’ and that made me feel happy that people want to actually help.”
Over two days, the girls went from driveway to driveway — accompanied by their golf cart full of car-washing supplies. Washing 21 cars was hard work, and the girls were sweaty and tired.
“I wanted to do the car wash because I knew I was doing it for a good cause,” Libby said. “I felt proud of myself and also tired.”
At one point, the skies opened up, and Sedona said the girls almost wanted to stop. But they pushed through it, and teamwork kicked into full gear. Each pair was in charge of washing one side of the car, and one person would be assigned to the front or back of the vehicle. If the girls got sweaty, they had a simple solution — turn the hose on and cool down.
What they didn’t expect, though, was the generosity of their community. Their first donation alone was $100. At the end of the first day, they’d raised more than $300. And by the end of the second day, the total was up to $550.
“It made all of us feel really grateful because there was a lot of people that wanted to help,” Skyla said. “Whenever the person gave their donation, they were like, ‘This is for a great cause, you guys are doing something amazing,’ and it made us feel good that we were helping.”
One family didn’t have their car washed, but they wanted to boost the girls’ donation. They ended up giving $450 to bring the total amount raised to $1,000. The girls were shocked.
“The group of people there really got behind these girls and made it successful,” said Sedona and Skyla’s father, Pete Vega. “I think it is important that we inspire others. What they did was two days of hard work, but ultimately, they want to make sure that the message gets out that it inspires others.”
Karen Young, Sedona and Skyla’s mother, said although the girls were the masterminds behind the project, they couldn’t have done it without their community rallying to help.
“We’re just the facilitators — we’re the vehicle, but this community that donated is what gave us the wings and the legs to make this happen,” Young said. “You can be the leaders of a company, but it’s all those people who give — like an employee — who make the company amazing. (The girls) came up with the idea, they had entrepreneurial spirit, but the community is really the one to applaud.”
Scott Billue, founder of Matthew’s Hope, told the girls their giving spirits and donation were mind-blowing.
“You guys are so fantastic, I can’t even tell you,” Billue told them. “It literally brings me to tears, and I don’t say that lightly. This donation is one of my favorites that’s ever happened here in 11 years because of the fact of how you did it. I’m just absolutely blown away. … It’s huge to me because honestly, it gives me hope. You’re saying to me, ‘Look, if 8-, 9- and 11-year olds can do this, then anybody can if they’re willing to go out there.’”