Community Impact

Young entrepreneur donates summer earnings to Meridian Park

November 17, 2022

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The letter arrived unexpectedly at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center. It started out, “Dear Legacy, every summer my sister and I run a shaved ice stand in front of our house. At the end of the summer, each of us select a charity … and this year I have selected you as my charity.”

The author, 9-year-old Reid Varga, went on to write in big, wonky letters that he chose Legacy Meridian Park because he heard hospitals were struggling. He wanted the staff to have more beds and more medicine to help people with “dumb Covid.”

Along with the letter came a check for $71.27.

“Our staff was incredibly touched by this note, his story, and the pictures of Reid and his sister,” said Mel Stibal, vice president, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Legacy Meridian Park. “We had lots of ‘you’re crying, I’m not crying’ type of reactions and many have posted the letter on their huddle boards. We have even picked up on Reid’s term ‘dumb COVID.’”

For Reid and his 11-year-old sister, Marlo Varga, the connection to Legacy Meridian Park is a lifelong one.

Seeds of generosity

Both Reid and Marlo were born at Legacy Meridian Park to Amy and Jason Varga. The family lives in Tualatin and frequently drives by the hospital. Amy owns and operates The Varga Group, which provides consulting services to nonprofits.

The couple has raised their children to appreciate hard work, teamwork and building a community. The community part is especially important.

“Contributing to the community and making our community better is a central value of our family, and both Jason and I learned that value from our parents,” Amy wrote in an email. “We have tried to teach our children that everyone can help make their community better, and that everyone will need help sometimes. We need each other, and it's our responsibility to do our part.”

Setting up shop

The chance to put those learnings to use came in 2019 when Marlo and Reid wanted to make some money. A traditional lemonade stand seemed boring, so they chose shaved ice. A popular trail that runs past their house gave the young entrepreneurs an instant customer base.

“When we started, we named it Little Makers Shaved Ice, but we changed it to Pirate Ice Shaved Ice,” said Reid. “It's more fun to say.”

The business has taught the brother and sister math skills, how to manage money and how to talk to adults. They’ve experimented with digital marketing with their Instagram account and accepting payment through Venmo.

They’ve also learned how to give back.

“When they started their shaved ice stand, we made an agreement that 30% of their profits at the end of the summer would be donated,” Amy said. “They’d each get to pick an organization to give their 15% to and Jason and I match their part dollar-for-dollar.”

Marlo chose Oregon Dog Rescue in Tualatin for her donation this year.

Tough lessons

As the kids have grown, Amy said they have pushed back a bit on donating a portion of their profits. She and Jason have used it as a teaching moment.

“It allowed us to have some great talks about why it matters, how mom and dad do it too, and how giving can be a sacrifice but that is part of what makes it meaningful,” Amy said.

It’s a point Reid concedes when asked what he likes most about donating.

“It makes me have a good feeling inside,” he said.

Plus, he still had enough money left over to buy his favorite thing, another Lego set.

Learn more about Legacy Health causes you can support.

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