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State Honoree

Stacey Gringauz

Parkland, Florida

Stacey Gringauz, 17, of Parkland, Fla., a senior at North Broward Preparatory School, has made and sold personalized bracelets with two friends over the past three years and donated the proceeds each month to a different charity, including $130,000 for victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting and their families. Stacey grew up watching her mother play a major role as a volunteer for a large foundation. She, too, wanted to make a difference, but “I wanted to create my own path and find a way to donate money to others in the community,” she said. After brainstorming ideas with two friends, they decided that since they all liked jewelry, the natural choice was to design and sell bracelets.

The girls named their charity “3 Heart Strings,” and with the help of their mothers, they applied for nonprofit status, created a website, and ordered beads, custom fabrics and business cards. They then went to work cutting fabric, beading, packaging and shipping bracelets out to customers for $5 apiece. Each month, the girls would research charities and decide where to distribute their proceeds. Then came the mass shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, which killed 17 people and wounded 17 others. Within two days the girls had posted a picture of a bracelet honoring the victims with the initials MSD spelled out in beads. It wasn’t long before orders started coming in, and within a short time, they had sold tens of thousands of bracelets and raised $130,000. The girls then held two private ceremonies to present the shooting survivors and the families of the deceased each with a check for $3,800.