Florida Teenager Hand-Carving American Flags to Support “Forgotten Heroes” Amid Pandemic
"Our new soldiers are wearing scrubs instead of camouflage."
A Florida teenager has raised thousands of dollars for homeless veterans, special needs children, and first responders by selling and donating hand-carved American flags.
Lorenzo Liberti, 15, found inspiration while serving meals at a food pantry with his church youth group last year. The tenth grader from Lakewood Ranch tells Southern Living that that’s where he met a homeless veteran who “made an impression” on him. It left him wondering how the country he loved could abandon its service men and women.
“I wanted to do something about it but wasn't sure how a 14-year-old boy could make an impact. During the summer, my prayers were answered!” Liberti recalled. “With no school to keep me busy, my dad suggested I find a DIY project to keep me occupied. One thing led to another and with a few modifications I created a unique wooden American flag.”
After he finished his first flag, word of his creations started to spread. Soon, with so much demand for the flags, he began donating his Heroic Flags to various local auctions and events to help raise money for "forgotten heroes."
Proceeds from Liberti's flags have gone to Turning Points, a Tampa-area nonprofit that works to end homelessness, as well as Suncoast Charities for Children in Sarasota, a charity organization that supports kids and adults with special needs.
Liberti has made about 60 flags since he started in November, reports CNN, with each flag taking approximately 15 to 20 hours to make.
When the coronavirus pandemic first struck the country in March, the teenager decided to include healthcare workers in his mission.
"We went to war against the virus. Our new soldiers are wearing scrubs instead of camouflage," he told CNN. "I thought it would be fitting to honor our new heroes with my flags."
After donating a seven-foot flag to Sarasota Memorial Hospital (where his mother works), Liberti started a GoFundMe.
“I'd like to donate a flag to a hospital in every state in honor of our frontline healthcare workers,” he tells Southern Living. “Their courage and sacrifice during the COVID-19 pandemic make them true heroes that we should all be proud of.”
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Liberti wants to raise $50,000 to make the flags for the hospitals most impacted by COVID-19 in each state. It will cost approximately $20,000 to make and ship 50 his flags. If he reaches his goal, that leaves $30,000 for Turning Points, "as their needs have not diminished during the pandemic," he explains on his GoFundMe.
So far, Liberti has raised nearly $17,000.
Visit HeroicFlags.com for more information and to purchase your own flag.