By Sondra Barr

Photos courtesy of the Lofgran family

Thirteen-year-old Lauren Lofgran has spent nearly half of her life raising money for organizations near and dear to her heart––and she’s just getting started.

What started out as an idea to make flower pressed bookmarks for the Mesa Public Library when she was 7 has turned into yearly fundraising endeavors for various charities that tug at Lauren’s heart. Most recently, the seventh grader crafted Disneyland ornaments out of mason jar lids for Helen’s Hope Chest, a Mesa charity that helps kids in foster care.

“We had some friends who went to Disneyland, and we asked them to pick us up some of the free maps,” says Lauren’s mom Andrea. Lauren used the maps to paste on jar lids before adding a Disney charm. “She let people know that the ornaments were free but if a person wanted to make a donation, it would go to Helen’s Hope Chest,” says Andrea. On Dec. 22, Lauren and Andrea presented them with a check for $245 and an ornament.

After a tour of the facility, Lauren was pleased to see where the money she’d raised would be going. “I liked that they are helping families and foster kids,” she says. “They might have one outfit and nothing to play with. Helen’s Hope Chest lets the kids pick out outfits and gives them toys.”

Over the years, Lauren has raised money for several organizations with her creative keepsakes. In addition to raising almost $700 for the Mesa Public Library with her bookmarks, she raised nearly $300 with a hot chocolate stand for Kids Need to Read, a Mesa charity that helps children discover the joy of reading. As an avid reader, Lauren hopes the money will fund efforts to inspire reading in youth. When Ballet Arizona couldn’t hold performances because of COVID, including Lauren’s beloved “Nutcracker,” she made Nutcracker bracelets and sold $300 worth for the organization. She’s also made painted owl rocks to raise funds for Liberty Wildlife.

“You get a great feeling knowing you’re helping someone,” says Lauren, who wants to be a neurosurgeon when she grows up. “I want to help people by making them feel better.”