Newburyport Daily News
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Lauren Sundstrom, 18, has been named a 2013 Finalist by the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes.
Each year, the Barron Prize celebrates 25 inspiring, public-spirited young people — some chosen as winners and others named as finalists — who have made a significant positive difference to people and our planet.
This year’s Barron Prize honorees are a highly diverse group of young leaders, chosen from nearly 400 applicants nationwide.
Sundstrom founded Clothes for Hope, a large-scale clothing resale initiative, and in two years has raised over $90,000 to improve the education of children in Ghana, Africa. She has helped provide hundreds of books and educational materials to a few specific village schools she has worked with, as well as uniforms for over 180 children to attend their local public school. She has also commissioned local workers to build the Clothes for Hope Middle School and Library at a village orphanage, as well as desks to seat over 100 students.
She began her work after volunteering in Ghana at public schools and orphanages during her summer vacation. Moved by the children and disheartened by their lack of educational opportunities, she returned to the U.S. determined to help.
Sundstrom enlisted over 200 volunteers to help her collect thousands of articles of new and gently used clothing over the course of five months. In the spring of 2012 she organized a massive clothing sale called Shop for a Cause featuring over 7,000 articles of clothing and accessories being sold at discounted prices, to benefit the local community. In the eight-hour sale, she raised over $23,000 for the Ghanaian children. All remaining clothing was donated to 15 local shelters and organizations.
Her second annual Clothes for Hope sale this past spring raised over $49,000 to continue to support Ghanaian students. She has returned to Ghana each year to personally purchase and deliver supplies, and to document the progress being made with Clothes for Hope’s donations.
“This journey has allowed me to discover my ability to speak on behalf of those without a voice,” said Sundstrom in a press release. “And I’ve learned that I can inspire other people to open their hearts to love and to give to others in need.”
The Barron Prize was founded in 2001 by author T.A. Barron and was named for his mother, Gloria Barron. Each year’s 25 Barron Prize honorees are as diverse as their service projects. They are female and male, urban and rural, and from many races and backgrounds. Half of the honorees have focused on helping their communities and fellow human beings; half have focused on protecting the environment.
“Nothing is more inspiring than stories about heroic people who have truly made a difference to the world,” said Barron. “And we need our heroes today more than ever. Not celebrities, but heroes — people whose character can inspire us all. That is the purpose of the Gloria Barron Prize: to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their stories will inspire others.”