For more than half of her life, Raegan Junge has been making news as she helps people throughout the United States who have been affected by tornadoes and other natural disasters.
The 12-year-old seventh grader at Benton Community Middle School is busy again this week, helping the Texas victims of Hurricane Harvey.
On Thursday, she and a friend, Payton Armstrong, loaded one box for a Red Cross shelter, filling it Thursday with personal hygiene items; supplies for babies including diapers, formula and wipes; few games for children, and bracelets and a note from Raegan. Also, Raegan prepares personal hygiene kits including a variety of items a person would need while spending nights in a shelter.
Raegan and her peers at Benton Community MS are also participating in a school supply drive, collecting items which a teacher in Houston requested.
It all started when she was six, when Raegan began collecting items for tornado survivors in Alabama. Later, she traveled to Joplin, Mo., with her family, to help distribute items to that community after a deadly tornado there. Since then, she has sent items to several states, helping people affected by tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, mudslides and fire. She has also helped with many local disasters, including Vinton’s 2016 tornado.
Her dedication has already earned Raegan some media attention. A TV crew followed her to Joplin, and last year, she traveled to Chicago to appear on the Steve Harvey Show, and also rang the bell at Wall Street during a New York City trip sponsored by the US Cellular The Future of Good program. In Chicago, Harvey presented her a check for $5,000 to help with the expenses of her projects, including paying shipping costs.
Raegan now has her own outdoor office, in a small shed the family has set up. It includes a variety of shelves and storage area, as well as several computer devices to help Raegan keep in touch with people facing needs. U.S. Cellular has also allowed her to use storage in one of its buildings in Newhall.
“I come home and check the news to make sure there is nobody to help, and then I go have fun,” Raegan says during a video interview for the Future of Good program.
For Raegan, “having fun includes riding horses, and practicing with a lasso. Her dream is to become a calf roper. She is a frequent participant in horse events at the Benton County fair, as well as in other contests.
Crystal says Raegan does virtually all of the work herself.
A few people have been reluctant to receive help from Raegan, because she is so young, Crystal says.
“People are reluctant at times when she calls because when they find out she’s 12 they under-estimate what she’s capable of doing,” says Raegan’s mom.
But many others have felt the impact of her efforts. Among the boxes in her house is one filled with thank-you notes from people she has helped, and she has received more awards for her service than her office walls have room to display.
See more about Raegan’s relief efforts HERE.
See a video from U.S. Cellular’s Future of Good program below