WSQHYA Clothes for the Cause Fundraiser

A 10-year-old led fellow AQHYA members in Washington to complete a wildly successful clothing drive to raise funds for their affiliate.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Ten-year-old Ava Dees set a goal to personally collect 200 bags of textiles; she more than surpassed that with 310 bags when the fundraiser ended. (Credit: Cynthia Dees)

Even from the get-go, it looked like a win for everyone involved. Horsemen and -women across the state of Washington could do a little spring cleaning and rid their closets of seldom-used textiles. Those materials would then be kept out of landfills and be reused as clothing, pillow stuffing, household insulation or wiping cloths. In return, the Washington State Quarter Horse Youth Association could add a little money to its treasury. 

Of course, the success of a fundraiser requires direction, organization, networking, marketing know-how and certainly a good deal of drive. WSQHYA found that in the form of its fundraising committee co-chair, 10-year-old Ava Dees.

To quote Helena in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” This pint-sized fundraising queen got wind of the Clothes for the Cause program from a family friend, and the idea caught like wildfire. 

At a WSQHYA meeting, Ava and her 11-year-old friend Isabella Laguna presented the fundraising option. Not only did the group agree to pursue Clothes for the Cause, but they also set a goal to collect 2,000 pounds of textiles, for which they would be paid back $0.20 per pound. 

“Clothes for the Cause was easy to reach, and we were contacted by Joyce, one of the coordinators,” said Cynthia Dees, Ava’s mom and the parent adviser for the WSQHYA fundraising committee. Clothes for the Cause provides participating schools, teams or church groups with marketing materials, and pretty much all a group needs to do is get the word out and start collecting. 

“Social media was a huge help in implementing, and my personal contacts were a huge help, too,” Cynthia added. “Clothes for the Cause put information in the papers, and Ava set up drop-off sites, which really helped.” 

Tina Laguna, mother to Isabella, put social media to work, too. 

“Isabella asked all our contacts for our non-profit horse rescue, Rancho Laguna's Heart, to donate; we mostly posted through our Facebook pages,” Tina said. 

There were also incentives for WSQHYA members. 

“For the fundraiser, Ava and Isabella challenged each WSQHA member to bring in 20 bags and offered a reward to the barn that brought in the most bags,” said Lisa Gardner, WSQHA show manager. “Two of our newest members, Katie Schols and Allysa Hill, won two free tack stalls at the WSQHA Trophy Circuit in May for Larsen Performance Horses by collecting 90 bags. Both Katie and Allysa have switched from the American Paint Horse circuit to AQHA shows with new American Quarter Horse mounts this year.”

The final collection was March 1 at the WSQHA Trainer Invitational in Monroe, Washington. The youth members packed bags of textiles in a truck, including clothes, towels, shoes, stuffed animals, blankets and sheets. 

With ambitions for 2,000 pounds collected, they more than achieved their goal:

  • Approximately 650 bags
  • 6,840 pounds of textiles
  • $1,076 raised

“Ava set a personal goal of 200 bags, and she actually brought 310 bags – the horse trailer was stuffed!” Cynthia said with a laugh. 

“Being one of the youngest members, Ava showed her excitement at the actual pick-up event, and as a mom, I could see she was proud of her fellow youth and that something she initiated actually worked out.

“Ava said that she learned that no matter how young or small you are, if you work together as a team, big things can happen. She also was amazed at how much ‘stuff’ we all have!”

“I could not be prouder of these two little gals and the whole WSQHYA group,” Tina added. “I've seen these young people rise up to many occasions to help out when needed, and they go above and beyond. They are our future; they are amazing.”

About Clothes for the Cause
Clothes for the Cause collects clothing and shoes and turns them into cash for your school, team or church group. The program is intended to not only help out kids, but also help improve the environment. 

Clothes for the Cause provides groups with the tools they need to run a successful clothing drive. Groups collect the clothes on the appointed date, then bring them to the Clothes for the Cause truck. Fill the truck, and Clothes for the Cause writes your organization a check. 

To learn more, visit or like the group on Facebook