TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It was a chat with a homeless veteran that inspired Lorenzo Liberti, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lakewood Ranch High School, to do more to support forgotten heroes.
Liberti met the man while he was volunteering with his church group at Turning Points of Bradenton, which provides homeless assistance.
“I haven’t been able to see him or talk to him, but if I could I would thank him for his service, and let him know what he really started because he really did inspire all of this,” said Liberti, who began carving and painting wooden flags, and selling them to raise money for Turning Points.
Then came the pandemic, and Liberti expanded his efforts to support frontline workers.
“The title hero doesn’t fall away when you’re not in uniform and not all these heroes wear capes, it’s a real-life thing,” Liberti said.
He launched Heroic Flags and vows to send one of his flags to the hardest-hit hospital in all 50 states.
“We’re not looking at the biggest hospital, we’re looking at the one that really needs a sign of hope, and in history will show ‘this is one that really persevered and fought through it,’” Liberti explains.
He launched a Go Fund Me with a goal of raising $50,000, $20,000 earmarked for hospitals and $30,000 to benefit Turning Points. He also plans to donate to Suncoast Charities for Children.
In four months’ time, Liberti’s raised more than $22,000 through donations, charity auctions, and direct sales of his flags. So far, he’s provided flags to hospitals in New York and New Jersey, and flags are on the way to Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, and Connecticut.
“I have family members who have been hit and affected by the pandemic, but in general when it comes to why I make these flags, it isn’t for money or anything else,” said Liberti. “It proves to myself that I’m part of something bigger, that in one or way or another I can give back to my community instead of just taking. The flag is so much to me, it’s a sign of freedom, it’s a sign of unity, it’s a sign of hope, but mostly it’s heroism.”
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