Reagan Garnsey, 13, of Dover, Delaware, a seventh-grader at Holy Cross School, founded a nonprofit organization with her little sister that has distributed nearly 7,500 plastic buckets filled with toys, games and crafts in all 50 states to children in hospitals, homeless shelters, foster care or who are faced with other challenges or hardships. Reagan began volunteering at age 4 by hosting a lemonade stand during the summer to raise money for a national charity focused on childhood cancer. In second grade, she started a knitting club at her school that ended up producing more than 1,200 hand-knitted hats for people in shelters and hospitals. Following the success of that project, “I started to think about my next big idea, and Buckets of Love Foundation was born,” said Reagan.
Reagan and her sister, Payton, collect money and items to fill their buckets by conducting bake sales and toy drives, and by soliciting donations and sponsors through letters, a video, a website and social media. They also have launched an annual fundraising golf tournament. Once buckets are filled with things designed to bring a smile to the face of a deserving child, the sisters include little notes telling the recipients that they are loved and appreciated. Then partner organizations are recruited to distribute the buckets in their locations. The project, said Reagan, reflects “our deep love for helping those who are less fortunate and in need of cheering up. The smiles on the faces of the children receiving our buckets have made all our efforts worthwhile.”