SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A 10-year-old girl from the Ozarks spends much of her time handing out free appreciation bracelets to veterans.
In turn, Serenity Henness has raised thousands of dollars for her veteran-based organization, Serenity Honors.
Her grandfather says people usually walk up from a distance to donate to her cause after watching Serenity shake veterans’ hands and offer them a bracelet with a giving heart.
“The very first veteran I met, I gave him happy tears when I gave him the bracelet because it meant a lot to him,” Serenity told The Heartlander. “It kind of evolved into me having my own charity.”
The bracelets read, “Thank you for your service” and “Welcome home Veterans, love Serenity.”
Over 6,000 veterans across the United States have received one of Serenity’s bracelets to date. Additionally, the youth was featured on Fox and Friends while at the Daytona 500 Speedway in Texas two years ago. Serenity handed out 1,200 bracelets to veterans and their wives in a 12-hour span at the event.
The lively 10-year-old says her grandfather Chris was in the U.S. Army and inspired her to start handing out bracelets because he does the same thing with a veterans organization of his own.
Serenity says she even has her own marketing team to help her process everything. Most of her funds come from her Facebook page, but she has raised money in other ways.
She and her grandfather recently went to the Branson Auction and raised nearly $60,000. A Jeep owned by her grandfather was first sold for $13,000 – but the new owner gave the vehicle back to Serenity and told her to auction it again. Upon the second auction, it brought another $10,000. The new owner of the classic Jeep then donated a 2006 Hummer H2 to Serenity’s cause for the next auction.
Her grandfather told The Heartlander the auctioneer eventually stopped the auction to raise more money and to take donations for Serenity Honors.
“This was because they took a few moments and told her story. It is just craziness. Most of the money she has raised has been very small donations. She has well surpassed the $100,000 mark on what she has raised to help veterans. The majority of that is $1, $5 and $20. People want to be a part and want to help her when they see her in action and interacting with the veterans.”
A member of Warrior Watch Riders, a troop support group, recently presented Serenity with a $10,000 check toward her goals for the nonprofit.
Serenity has raised an additional $13,000 to bring the Vietnam Veteran “Wall That Heals” to Springfield this June 8-11. The exhibit will be at 922 West Republic Road.
And a few familiar faces will be on hand, giving out bracelets.