Dysart girl raising money for Cedar Bend Humane Society through sales at farmers market

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 11:31 PM CDT
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DYSART, Iowa (KCRG) - A staple across so many Iowa cities and towns, the farmers market, has become the venue where a nine-year-old girl from Dysart has raised thousands of dollars for causes she cares about.

For the last four years, AJ Reese has been a fixture at the seasonal Dysart Farmers Market at City Park. Rain or shine, she sets up shop at a table under the pavilion every Tuesday.

“Unless I’m someplace else, I’m normally here,” AJ said.

Her sales range from handmade rubber-band jewelry to lemonade to homemade baked goods.

“My favorite would probably be the brownies,” she said. “They’re really good.”

This summer tradition started when AJ was in kindergarten.

“She said, ‘Mommy, I want to help the poor. I want to raise money for them,’” AJ’s mom, Jennifer, recalled. “And I said, ‘OK, how can we do this? We need a plan.’”

That turned into an annual fundraiser for a new organization every year, with AJ making sales for at-will donations at the Dysart Farmers Market.

Last year, she raised about $1,000 for the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines.

“Each year, she’s brought in a little bit more, but she’s a pretty good salesperson too,” Jennifer said.

This year, the money will benefit the Cedar Bend Humane Society in Waterloo, where AJ and her dad adopted their dogs.

AJ has had dogs her whole life and wants to become a vet.

“I don’t really have a goal. I just fundraise, and what I get is what I get,” she said.

What she gets is making a difference for the causes this nine-year-old cares about.

“I’m so proud of the young lady she’s becoming and how generous she is, how she’s thinking about others,” Jennifer said.

“My favorite part is getting to call the people and hearing how happy they are about it and donating the money and seeing them,” AJ added.

The Dysart Farmers Market is every Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and runs through the end of September.

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