Sheffield 11-year-old rallies local businesses to raise £2,200 for Ukraine appeal through charity raffle

An 11-year-old Sheffield girl who mustered local businesses to hold her own smash-hit charity raffle for Ukraine says it’s important to help others when things look bleak.

Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 6:12 am

Lauren Marks says when the Russian invasion broke out in February, she decided to take the sadness she felt reading social media reports and turn it into a positive.

With the help of friends, family and local businesses, she set out to raise £300 through her own charity raffle – only to smash her goal and bring in £2,270 for the British Red Cross’ Ukraine appeal.

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Lauren Marks with her table of prizes she brought in by asking Sheffield businesses for support her charity raffle. With their help, she raised £2,270 for the Ukraine appeal.

Lauren said: “I had been seeing a lot of things on social media saying it would be World War Three. It made me quite scared and anxious to see that.

“It made me think I should make it into a positive thing, not only to help me but also the people in Ukraine."

After brainstorming with her mum Emma, Lauren launched her own charity raffle – but for that, she needed prizes.

She decided to call on the local businesses of Sheffield for a hand. And they did not disappoint.

The letter Lauren printed and dropped off at Sheffield businesses asking for help.

Lauren said: “I wrote a letter saying what I was doing and asking for some businesses to donate prizes, as well as my family and friends if they could.

“I photocopied the letter and went all around Sheffield with my dad dropping them off, and also put it on social media.”

The response she got was phenomenal. Within weeks, Lauren had a table of chocolates, champagne bottles, handmade gifts and beauty products to support her appeal.

One woman gifted handmade blue and yellow pillows in honour of the Ukrainian flag, while hairdressers and jewellers gave away top-value vouchers.

“It was sort of overwhelming, in a good way,” said Lauren. “You won’t believe how grateful I am to everyone.

“They were all great prizes but they all meant something. They were from people who just wanted to help.”

Soon after, Lauren launched a JustGiving page to gather donations and began selling tickets online and in the playground at her school - St Wilfred’s Primary, Millhouses.

Friends and family shared her appeal with workmates and word quickly spread.

And, after setting out with a goal of ‘maybe £300’, Lauren quickly raised over £1,700 in tickets – before HSBC offered to match her funding with an additional £500.

Lauren said: “Every day I came home from school, mum would tell me how much more had come in.

“In the end we had to do the prize draw out of a bucket because out biggest bowl wasn’t big enough.

“My family really helped to get all the prizes out to everyone.

“When it was done I went to school and everyone was congratulating me. I got to stand up in assembly and say what happened.

“It feels really really good to know I’ve done something to help people who are suffering really badly in this situation.”

Every penny from Lauren’s appeal has gone to the British Red Cross’ Ukraine Crisis Appeal.

Mum Emma said: “We’re all really proud of her and just how selfless she’s been. She really has worked hard.”

Lauren said: “I want to thank my family and friends, everyone who donated and my school for their support, and everyone who shared the appeal.”