DETROIT – Fundraising is a labor of fun for Stella Gustitus and Maybree Love, 11-year-old sixth graders from Ann Arbor. Since July, the best friends from Ann Arbor have raised nearly $1,500 and counting to help support COVID-19 emergency relief efforts at Henry Ford Hospital.
From the front yard to the Internet, the dynamic marketing duo has come up with a variety of creative ways to help others in need. What started out with easy-as-pie bake sales and lemonade stands has morphed into online pet photo contests and auctioning off homemade arts and crafts.
"We want to let all healthcare workers know that we care and appreciate that they risk their lives for every day," said Stella. "We want to help in any way we can, no matter the size of the donation. Our goal is to put smiles on people’s faces, and we encourage others to do the same," said Maybree.
With the pandemic as the backdrop last summer, the girls wondered who they could help next. “Detroit was hit pretty hard by COVID-19 and I thought ‘Why not help patients and healthcare workers at Henry Ford Hospital?’” said Stella.
They’ve left no fundraising stone unturned in their quest to raise money for their cause, including selling their used toys and clothes.
The pre-teen master marketers, who have attended Ann Arbor Open School together since kindergarten, have gone virtual with their fundraising reach through a website, Facebook page and YouTube channel, all under the banner of “Helping Hands”.
“This year we moved online because of COVID-19 and to help us reach more people,” said Maybree. “We come up with ideas and figure out how to make them happen online or in person,” said Stella.
The girls’ compassionate drive for fundraising quickly blossomed from posting flyers around the neighborhood to creating a social media campaign that continues to grow said Maybree’s mother.
Their parents are very supportive of the girls’ efforts to help Henry Ford Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re also huge fans of their daughters’ social media channels.
“We are incredibly proud of the girls and their dedication to helping their community,” said Heather Love, Maybree’s mother. “We hope this inspires other kids to engage with and support their communities.”
“We continue to be amazed at the generosity of our community during this extraordinary and challenging time,” said Mary Jane Vogt, executive vice president and chief development officer at Henry Ford Health System. “I am inspired by how Maybree and Stella are dedicating their time to raise money for Henry Ford Hospital to further help our community navigate this pandemic.”
Each year, the fundraising friends get more creative. In 2019, their first year of fundraising together, the girls raised $550 for the Humane Society of Huron Valley by selling toys, treats and pies for dogs, and raking leaves around their neighborhood.
“I love to help people. It makes me feel good and makes me feel like I’m making a difference in a small way,” said Maybree.
Maybree and Stella continue to raise money online for Henry Ford Hospital with their homemade soap sale. They look forward to presenting their final donation amount to Henry Ford Hospital in person soon.
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT: Sal Giacona / [email protected] / 313-421-9108