Lily Hinds

Lily Hinds, 12, is baking up a storm with her dog biscuits,. 

The ongoing pandemic has struck a chord with Gilbert children and teens and promoted a sense of community and philanthropy among them. 

Kids as young as 5 have honed their skills to build small businesses that are thriving in the time of COVID-19. 

With equal parts creativity and timeliness, the young entrepreneurs aim to address social issues while earning money to give back to those in need. 

Maddie Andonie is a 12-year-old local actress, dancer and model who is on a mission to help children in crisis at this difficult time by having emergency and crisis-care workers give children something meaningful in traumatic moments. 

Along with collecting donations, she is creating do-it-yourself blanket kits that people in the community can pick up, put together and return for distribution.

Hudson Vanderwall, also 12, found a unique way to couple his passion for engineering and for helping others by turned the pandemic into a positive. 

“I have attended Engineering for Kids since I was 5 and participate in CodeBots,” Hudson explained. “My mom saw that mask extenders were needed as COVID-19 spread, and I thought I could try to make them on my 3D Printer. After my first batch, messages were flying in.”

Hudson transitioned to helping those in need – healthcare workers, specifically. He has donated close to 1,000 extenders, each taking him 25 minutes to make. Engineering for Kids donated 3D printers to help him increase production. 

  Furry community members aren’t forgotten either. 

Cans for Cool Canines was started by Oceana Anders, 11, to help homeless dogs. 

She collects cans and recyclables and uses the money earned to give back to local dog charities. Social media has been a helpful tool and she now receives donations from Gilbert and beyond. 

Lily Hindes, 12, combined her love of dogs and baking to create S & G Dog Co. It gave her something meaningful to work on during social isolation. She has sold more than 3,000 dog biscuits and donates a bulk of proceeds to animal charities while working on an upcoming line of homemade dog toys.

A mass of business-savvy children have blossomed over the grueling months of quarantine.

Brooke Birlin’s company, Brookie’s Cookies, a self-run baking effort that allows Brooke, 11, to save for a phone and donate self-delivered sweet treats to police, fire stations and nurses.

 Taylor Burke, 14, is a self-taught artist who has found sketching to be therapeutic. She sells her drawings to raise money for charity – and even earned enough to buy herself a “COVID companion,” a pet bunny.

Others used this time to reflect on who needs their kindness and youthful energy. 

 AJ Zvada, 14, hosts weekly trivia Zoom nights with local senior centers while Garrett Hauk, 10, organized a summer “caring cards” campaign for his school to bring positive and colorful cards to Mariposa Point Senior Center in Gilbert.

We Give a Shade co-owners and sisters Nicolette and Taylor Krienert said formed their sunglass business, We Give A Shade, during the pandemic. For every two pairs of shades sold, they donate a pair and have given 1,000 pairs to hospital, fire station and grocery store workers. “We want to be a feel-good story during these unprecedented times,” they said.