12-year-old Prior Lake girl organizes holiday donation drive for charity she started at age 7

- She’s only 12 years old, but Sanya Pirani is already giving back to her community.

Pirani is a Prior Lake Middle School student who founded the nonprofit Sanya’s Hope for Children. She organized a donation drive Saturday morning to stuff 500 bags for homeless children. It’s just one part of her plan to make the world a better place.

She started the charity when she was 7 years old. She organized hunger drives and learned to sew bags for children in need. Now, her operation has grown to include classmates from her school district and beyond as they work to put smiles on the faces of children over Christmas.

Pirani gives her friends pep talks inside her Prior Lake home as the group prepares to spend several hours on a Saturday morning stuffing holiday bags for children in need.

As they work hand-in-hand to form an assembly line putting crayons, notepads and toys into handmade bags by Pirani and her friends, these middle and high school students can’t help but feel good about donating their time.

“I think it’s great that youth are helping other youth in the community and this is what the holiday season is all about: giving back to the community,” said Sara Carlson, a Prior Lake Middle School student.

Carlson teamed up with Pirani recently to help organize Saturday’s event. She is inspired by Pirani’s selfless approach to helping others.

“It’s our obligation to feel that poverty is not acceptable and that we need to do something and help other people,” Pirani said.

Pirani recognized the need to give back at a young age. At 7 years old, she was already running hunger drives and bake sales before learning how to sew.

As her love of sewing turned into an influential nonprofit, she now collects holiday bags full of goodies to be dropped off at homeless shelters over Christmas.

“I’ve been working with Sanya since I’ve been in second grade and I’ve always loved to come here, and last year I got to go to the orphanage and see the kids’ faces and it really was a miracle that so many people are caring enough to do this for the kids that don’t have the money to,” said Andrea Reichwald, a fellow student and volunteer.  

Joe Vaughn is the executive director of the Scott, Carver, Dakota Cap Agency which will distribute the bags to children. He says Pirani first reached out to him when she was 7 years old and he’s amazed what she’s accomplished in these few years.

“The positive energy in the room and the positive feelings they generate for helping others and it’s an authentic general feeling they have—it’s just contagious,” Vaughn said.

Over the next few days, the 500 bags stuffed full of presents will be brought over to the Sharing and Caring Homeless Shelter located in downtown Minneapolis.

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