Jun. 1—Bruce Taflinger drives roughly 100 students to and from Northwestern. When he gave out letters asking for donations to his son's organization, Bridges Outreach, one young entrepreneur rose to the occasion.
Sadie Arnesen, 8, raised $20 for the community outreach program by selling handcrafted accessories in her front yard.
She learned to make the yarn and rubber band bracelets, and an occasional necklace, from another student on the bus.
"It was pretty fun," the second grader said. "And since it was hot, we could sit out there all day."
Taflinger explained there are usually 25 volunteers who hand out letters during the annual Bridges fundraiser. For his part, he gave out 300 letters to teachers and students, who were asked to give the letters to their parents.
When Sadie's mother told her what the letter said, she immediately wanted to help.
Travis Taflinger, who started Bridges Outreach, said the organization hopes to raise $75,000. So far, volunteers have raised 59% of that goal. The money will be used for after school programs, mentoring and housing.
"Our favorite $20 is from the second grader at Northwestern," Travis said.
Initially, Sadie's mother noted, the 8-year-old wanted to set up the bracelet stand on Mother's Day. After persistent requests, the stand was built a few days later.
Sawhorses and spare wood formed the body of the stand. Then, using large pieces of colorful paper, Sadie made a sign advertising the bracelet stand. River rocks used at the house for landscaping were marked with sharpies to list prices and indicate whether the shop was open for business.
For three days, Sadie sat under her favorite tree and sold the jewelry with her cousin and another friend who lived in the neighborhood. Although she doesn't know the specific number of bracelets her team sold, she said they sold a lot.
The young entrepreneur also sold keychains, but ran out of inventory.
When customers weren't able to find a bracelet that fit, or wanted to have a bracelet custom-made, Sadie took the extra time to craft one according to the customer's specifications.
It only takes her a few seconds, she said.
The bracelets could also be customized with lettered beads or charms.
"Knowing that second grader and to understand her heart for community at such a young age, I thought it was pretty cool," Taflinger said.
After the third day, rain destroyed the paper sign on Sadie's stand.
She's since rebuilt, though, and is continuing to raise money for Bridges.
"What I like about helping people is that you could think that you're just helping one person when you could be helping the whole world," Sadie said.
James Bennett III can be reached at 765-454-8580 or email@example.com.