, the general manager of the , said he gets 10 to 15 requests a week from different organizations looking for donations, but there was something about a letter that an 11-year-old Stoughton girl sent that resonated with him.
Leandra Andrade, a sixth grader at the , sent a letter to members of the business community at the end of August asking for their assistance in collecting items and fundraising for the Evelyn House, a family homeless shelter right here in Stoughton.
After watching a documentary about homelessness last winter, Andrade decided she wanted to do something about it. And, so with the help of her family (especially her grandmother Diane Sousa) and the local community, she is doing just that.
In addition to personally collecting donations of items like blankets, sheet sets, pillows, bath towels, and toiletries, Andrade is having a fundraising dinner (with live music) this Saturday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at , on 76 Porter St. in Stoughton, to help raise money to purchase the items that are constantly needed at the Evelyn House.
“Unfortunately we can’t help everyone, but there was something about her letter,” Cortizo said.
“You could almost hear a 10-year-old’s voice reading it to me. She was speaking from the heart; it was so sincere,” he continued. “Having two kids of my own, how could you say no to someone that young with [such a] vision. “
Cortizo shared the letter with some of his employees and they went on a shopping spree in the store “stuffing” two carriages full of toothbrushes, blankets, notebooks and other assorted items.
Andrade and her grandmother came to Target to pick up the donations.
“It was amazing,” Andrade said.
Other Stoughton Chamber of Commerce members, like the , and have also made donations.
It’s all part of what Terry Schneider, executive director of the Chamber, calls “doing well by doing good.” Schneider’s company, Multi-Sport, has donated body and hair products to the cause.
“Doing well by doing good” is a notion Andrade has already mastered at a young age.
“It’s a big step [to go from] sitting on the couch and watching television to then doing something [about it],” Schneider said.
In her letter to business owners, Andrade said the Evelyn House “[helps] families become independent.”
“When I met with Marcia Wigfall, the house coordinator, I learned that help is needed, and the need is ongoing,” Andrade wrote in the letter.
“The items needed are twin blankets and sheet sets, pillows, bath towels, and toiletries. Each family is provided with these items, and is allowed to keep them, once they are ready to leave the shelter for their own residence.”
She added, “I want to help, but can’t do it alone!”
And so far, a lot of people are stepping up to help the cause, including some of her friends and fellow classmates, as well as children from a youth group at Faith Baptist Church in Stoughton.
“It’s really cool because a lot of people have joined my team,” Andrade said.
“I didn’t expect it to get as big,” Lynn Andrade, Leandra's mom, said. “It’s been pretty spectacular to see so many people willing to help.”
The fundraising dinner is on October 15, at 6 p.m. at Club Luis de Camoes, 76 Porter St. in Stoughton.
From Andrade’s letter: “How can you help? You can make a donation of an item to be placed in for raffles, a money donation, give an item such as toiletries, towels, blankets, pillows, etc. You can also donate help with the fundraiser itself, with food or entertainment. Please plan to join us at the fundraiser!”
For more information, contact Diane Sousa by phone at 781-344-5342 or by mail at 97 Jamie Lane in Stoughton. Checks can be made out to Diane Sousa (include Evelyn House Fundraiser in the memo line).
Andrade’s letter is posted in the media gallery.