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Treasure Coast Essay

Honoring a young philanthropist

She has been named a Philanthropist of the Year, and she is only 12.  I’m talking about Lauren Weaver of Vero Beach.  Lauren is one of five award recipients and 16 other honorees who will be recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indian River Chapter.  The event will be at 5:30 Tuesday at Riverside Theater.  Lauren will receive the chapter’s first Outstanding Youth Philanthropist of the Year award.  She began helping the homeless five years ago.  With $25 from her own savings, Lauren bought Christmas gifts for a homeless man she met in Pocohontas Park in downtown Vero Beach.  Then she started Lauren’s Way to put together boxes of food, clothing, toiletries and other items to be distributed to the homeless at Christmas time by The Source, a nonprofit agency that helps people in need.  Family, friends, a church youth group and others joined the drive.  This past Christmas, Lauren’s Way assembled 150 gift boxes.  Lauren – the daughter of Melissa Weaver and Ryan Weaver – is a fifth grader at Osceola Magnet School.  The word “philanthropist” comes from the Greek meaning someone who loves human beings.  Even at the age of 12, Lauren Weaver certainly fits the definition.  For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.