Auburn girl has a heart for Haiti

Homemade project nets $500 for earthquake victims
By: Jenifer Gee Journal News Editor
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For the past two weeks, 7-year-old Anne Lillis has been sharing her heart with others all in the hope of helping those in need. And her desire to help has raised close to $500 in donations to help earthquake victims in Haiti. A few weeks ago Anne was at the dinner table with her family where they were talking about the earthquake in Haiti and how it was impacting residents. Her mother, Rebecca Lillis, said she remembers her daughter asked for her help. “One night she said, ‘Momma, I need your help on something. Can you help me put up a lemonade stand for Haiti?’” Rebecca Lillis recalled. Rebecca Lillis laughed as she remembered looking out the window at the pouring rain, she told Anne that it wasn’t quite lemonade-stand weather. However, touched by her daughter’s desire to help, both she and Anne came up with the idea to make felt heart pins to sell for $1 each. They named the fundraiser “Hearts for Haiti.” After gathering supplies from Auburn businesses including Gypsy Wind Beads, Altamont Beads and Treasures and Dawn’s Hallmark, which gave Anne discounts, the 7-year-old and her mother spent time gluing the pieces and attaching pins to the back. Anne said she had fun putting the hearts together. “I kind of lose track of time,” Anne said. Anne then took the handmade pins, which were covered in sparkly beads, to her mom’s office, her brother’s sports games and her school. Michelle White, one of Rebecca Lillis’ coworkers, said she’s purchased several of the pins. White said she’s given them to friends, neighbors, and her daycare provider. “When people hear what it is and what it’s for, they want to be involved,” White said. “It’s been exciting to see that support and outpouring.” The homemade fundraiser has netted close to $500 between the time it started, Feb. 1, to its end, Feb. 14, Rebecca Lillis said. Some have donated $1 and others have added a few extra bucks to the sale. One man, White said, gave Anne $20 and refused to take a pin. “I think it’s cool the amount of money they raised,” White said. The proceeds will go to Partners in Heath, Rebecca Lillis said. Anne said the fundraiser makes her feel “good because I know I’m going to help people.” Rebecca Lillis added that project has helped Anne gain confidence by approaching her friends, classmates and adults and asking for their help. She added that the activity is also a nice way to spend quality time with her daughter. “She was nervous at first to ask people to buy a pin,” Rebecca Lillis said. “But it just opened her eyes to how a little bit of hard work can go a long way to help others in need.” But what’s even more impressive to Rebecca Lillis is the compassion her daughter has shown to others. “I’m just so impressed with her big heart,” Rebecca Lillis said. “She’s so caring and thinking of others so often.” Jenifer Gee can be reached at