ELLSWORTH — While other young people were going on amusement rides and stuffing themselves with fried dough at the Blue Hill Fair, an Ellsworth High School freshman spent the long weekend raising money for veterans.
Sophie Lynch, daughter of Wanese and Chuck Lynch of Ellsworth, raised $5,073.50 for the Maine Veterans Project in Bangor over the past Labor Day weekend.
“It feels nice that I can do something,” the 14-year-old said. “I want veterans to know there’s still people out there who care. Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide.”
Lynch will be one of two guest speakers at the Wreaths Across America kickoff on Sunday, Dec. 12, at the Maine Coast Mall. The event kicks off at 9 a.m.
Lynch raised the money selling T-shirts and raffle tickets for goods she solicited from local businesses.
“As far as we’re concerned as a tiny nonprofit, that’s an astronomical amount for us,” said Maine Veterans Project President Sean “Doc” Goodwin. “She brought in over $2,000 during her very first effort.”
That’s right, at the 2019 fair, when Lynch was 12, she also spent the weekend raising money for veterans.
“I just wanted to help in some way,” Lynch said. So, being from a family of veterans, that’s what Lynch settled on.
Her father, Chuck, is an Air Force veteran and both of her great-grandfathers were veterans, she said. Older brother Aaron, who is a senior at Ellsworth High School, is in the Army National Guard.
“If we could legally hire her for something we would,” said Goodwin. “She underpromises and overdelivers. She’s incredibly mature and humble about it. It’s never ‘I and me’ with her. It’s always ‘we and us.’”
Goodwin said the Maine Veterans Project was born from an ATV ride fundraiser to fight veteran suicide.
“We are dedicated to preventing veteran suicide right here in Maine for our Maine veterans,” Goodwin said. “We provide tools veterans need before they get to that point.”
The organization was founded in July 2015 and provides home improvement services, benefit-related help, heating fuel assistance and other needs.
Lynch said Ellsworth High School has a requirement that each student give 40 hours of community service before graduation.
She clocked 55 hours of community service in her first week of high school at the fair.
Lynch has also raised funds at a booth at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office’s annual ATV ride fundraiser.