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Virginia teens fundraise to buy hand sanitizer for seniors
May 23

By ADELE UPHAUS-CONNER, The Free Lance-Star

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) _ Spotsylvania High School junior Virginia Finch became involved with the local nonprofit Teen Enrichment Network just a few months ago, in February.

At the time, the group, which is made up of high school students primarily from Fredericksburg City and Spotsylvania County, was planning an upcoming summit to discuss the impact of racial disparity on teens.

Then, the coronavirus outbreak hit.

``The Teen Enrichment Network's primary focus is the community,'' Finch said. ``So when the COVID-19 outbreak began, we all brainstormed how we could do our part to help those in need.''

Their idea was to raise money to buy hand sanitizer for local senior citizens, first responders and medical personnel.

The CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean hands if soap and water are not available. But the product is often sold-out in stores and has been subject to price gouging online.

Donald Robinson, director of Teen Enrichment Network, was able to get a discounted contract for hand sanitizer through the Naval Exchange Service Command.

The local teens are hoping to raise $8,000 to purchase a large supply of the product.

The fundraiser, which launched April 21 and is organized and run entirely by the teens, has raised $855 so far, all from individuals, Finch said.

Finch is leading the fundraising committee, which is made up of 14 other students from Massaponax, Chancellor, Spotsylvania, Riverbend and James Monroe high schools.

Finch volunteers three times a week at Juan More Taco, helping deliver meals to some 40 homebound seniors. If the group's fundraiser is successful, she plans to include bottles of hand sanitizer with the meal deliveries.

Students on the committee are reaching out to other local restaurants that are making home deliveries.

``Everyone on the committee has something to do, and there's a lot to be done,'' Finch said. ``We're getting this done through teamwork.''

Finch said she was asked to join Teen Enrichment Network earlier this year by a classmate she'd never spoken to before.

``He said he thought I would be interested because of my involvement with clubs and leadership in school,'' she said. ``I've always been extremely focused on the future. So I decided to go.''

She said the group offers ``a safe space to talk about what I (feel is) important to today's teens, as well as the community.''

You can donate to Teen Enrichment Network's fundraiser at GoFundMe, their website teenenrichment.org or by mailing a check to 7124 Salem Fields Blvd., PMB 12, Fredericksburg, VA 22407-2509.


By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019