Lexi Ananiadis seems like a typical 8-year-old, with her hair curled and tied back in a black bow.
She’s going to be in third grade this year. Her best friend’s name is Claire. She also likes cheerleading and cheers with the local Storm Elite All Stars.
But Lexi, whose full name is Alexis, is no ordinary kid. She is the devoted and ambitious pioneer of her own charity called Lexi’s Love, which is dedicated to clothing and feeding local people in need. In less than a year, Lexi has collected and donated several vanloads of basic necessities for the needy and her Meals For Hope fundraiser has served more than 100 meals for the hungry.
It started about eight months ago after Lexi came back from a cheerleading competition in Illinois. While there, Lexi encountered a man who was homeless. Brooke Ananiadis, Lexi’s mother, said Lexi was “spooked at first, and then she realized they (people who are homeless) weren’t scary.” Lexi then decided she wanted to buy the man a meal so she went into a local shop, purchased a meal, and personally handed it to him. Her passion for helping people didn’t stop there in Illinois, she brought it home with her to Stevens Point.
The Ananiadis family had donated to local charities for years but Lexi wanted to do even more. She wanted to be more involved and actively help the less fortunate in her community. “I think that they deserve to have a good life,” Lexi said of people in need.
Lexi’s favorite thing to collect are clothes and shoes for the Kids Closet. Her mother says Lexi loves to go through her own closet and donate what she feels will make another little girl feel pretty.
Tiffani Krueger, organizer for Tiff’s Kids Closet, said Lexi’s “eyes light up with all the stuff (she brings to the closet).” Krueger also says Lexi always asks about the children who come to the Closet and that “she (Lexi) just cares about others.”
Lexi also started Meals For Hope, a fundraiser to provide meals to people in the community who are homeless. Donation jars placed at Olympia Family Restaurant and Park Ridge Cafe (which are owned by Lexi’s parents and grandfather respectively) are used to collect funds. Every $5 a jar makes is matched by the restaurants and then converted into gift cards that are donated to and distributed by local food pantry, Place of Peace.
For her birthday last year, Lexi hand wrote over 30 invitations to her family and friends. She asked that her guests donate at least half of what they would have spent on her to Meals For Hope. Meals For Hope raised over $100 from this selfless request and has served a total of 127 meals since it started eight months ago.
Lexi is now on a mission to collect camping tents for the homeless. She is still taking donations for the Kids Closet but her biggest goal for next year is to have a donation box at every elementary school in the Stevens Point school district. She already has one at Madison Elementary School. Lexi also announced that another of her goals is to have “20!” times more meals for her Meals For Hope program.
Though her goals sound big, the future for Lexi really is simple, “I think maybe (the future will be) that they (people in need) got some of my stuff,” she said. “I’m really excited and I really hope that they can keep getting more.”