Three Manhasset 11-year-olds have turned a fun hobby into a way to give back.
This summer, twins Grace and Ava Panopoulos and their friend Lauren Kim, all sixth graders at Shelter Rock Elementary School in Manhasset, discovered that they love DIY projects.
“The whole summer we were really doing nothing,” Ava says, “but then, we started making and tie-dyeing T-shirts and other things.”
Some of the girls’ friends loved their creations and wanted some of their own. That’s when an idea sparked in their heads: They would sell their handmade products — right now, beaded bracelets and mask chains — and donate proceeds to charities, such as Ronald McDonald House.
“We thought it would be a nice idea to help the kids who are suffering throughout this
pandemic,” Grace says, “especially when they have something like cancer.”
The girls have raised nearly $3,000 selling their creations and donated to four organizations so far: Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer, Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, Madison Holleran Foundation and Leashes of Valor. They’ll also be visiting Ronald McDonald House soon to deliver a donation.
“It makes us feel very good,” Kim says. “We try to raise money for them so they can have a better life.”
The friends launched their organization in mid-August and called it 3GALcreations — “GAL” standing for Grace, Ava and Lauren. They made Instagram and Facebook pages for the project and posted their items for sale. While they started out selling tie-dyed shirts, they quickly shifted their focus to beaded mask chains. Those were a big hit.
“This allows them to learn about, ‘How can I make an impact in this world, even if it’s small, and how big can it grow?’” Jeannie Kim, Lauren’s mother, says. “I think they are pretty shocked at how big it grew.”
Jeannie and the twins’ mother, Irene Panopoulos, oversee the finances of their philanthropic business and help reach out to organizations with good, relevant causes. 3GALcreations’ motto is “dream, innovate, empower,” and the moms want their daughters to create a variety of products and donate to different charities in the future.
“We want to spread the wealth as much as possible to various organizations,” Jeannie says, “until the girls then decide what their true passion becomes.”
Find 3GALcreations on Facebook and Instagram: @3galcreations.