A 13-year-old girl held a lemonade stand Friday near her home in Los Alamitos to raise money for the homeless, an annual tradition she has kept since she was 6 years old.
J.J. Sagen began the fundraising tradition immediately after she saw her first homeless person living on the street.
"He held a sign asking for food, and I asked my mom why is he asking other people for food when he could just go to the store or go home to get food, and she said he doesn't have a home to go to," Sagen said.
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"The whole ride home she was thinking and wheels were spinning," Janell Sagen, J.J. Sagen's mother, said "She says let's do a lemonade stand and buy that man a home."
The first year, Sagen raised $350 dollars, which she donated to We Care, a local charity that feeds the hungry and helps prevent homelessness.
Each year since then, she's doubled her money, raising more than $25,000, which all goes towards helping others like the man she saw on the street many years ago.
"These people need help," the young girl said. "We have blessed lives and new clothes for school. This is sad. They don't have homes."
The director of We Care says Sagen is proof that age is no barrier when it comes to making a difference.
"When you've got a little girl willing to make a difference and step up and say I'm going to raise money for you--what more could you ask for? I wish there was many more of here in this area," Director Rob Lowenberg said.
"Most 6-year-olds probably don't think I'm going to help the homeless buy homes, but i did," Sagen said. "So other people could too."
Since Sagen turned 13, she feels she's outgrown the lemonade stand. She's planning a more mature fundraiser for next year, perhaps a luncheon, she says.
If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe account set up by J.J. Sagen to help the homeless, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 7.9 percent of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges.