MADISON — A simple trip to the grocery store, where she noticed cereal boxes encouraging people to donate money to different causes, was enough to inspire 11-year-old Laura Holden to start a project of her own to help others.

“I thought to myself, ‘I should start doing something for other people, grown-up people in homeless shelters,'” said Laura, who will enter the sixth grade this fall at Madison Junior High School.

In May, Laura started making and selling jewelry to raise money for the New Hope Shelter, a homeless shelter for women and children in Solon. She makes earrings, bracelets and necklaces and sells them wherever she can — carrying a decorated cardboard display case when she visits friends, goes to school or tags along to one of her sister’s soccer games.

So far, Laura’s efforts have generated about $40 in donations for the shelter — money that will go directly to buying medication for residents who don’t have insurance or MaineCare, said shelter Director Rebecca Philpot.

“Every little bit makes a big difference,” Philpot said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s $20 or $20,000. That impacts us the same way.”

Earlier this week, 10 women and two children were staying at the shelter, which is run 100 percent on donations and grant money.

Laura, who has a family friend who volunteers at the shelter but has never been there herself, said after she decided she wanted to donate money to others, she also decided that it would be good to give it to a local organization.

“When I first started, it was something new to me, so it was a little frustrating,” she said. “But now it’s a lot of fun. I like making the jewelry, selling it and giving the money to people.”

Her mother, Chudala Holden, said that aside from helping her daughter buy her first supplies, the project is something she has pursued on her own. After she started making money, Laura began setting aside $8 per month — the amount she needs to buy supplies — and reimburses her mother for the cost.

This isn’t the first time Laura has raised money to help others. Last year she raised $214 via family and friends for the Walk for Hope in Augusta, sponsored by MaineGeneral Medical Center, something her family has participated in for several years; but her mother said the idea of making and selling jewelry still surprised her.

“I thought it was a little crazy, but she went for it,” Chudala Holden said. “I think what I’d tell other kids is, ‘If you have an idea, go for it.’ My initial thought was, ‘How would this work?’ But she did it.”

So far, the entire shelter community has been touched by Laura’s first donation, according to Philpot, who said the shelter also received a letter from Laura telling residents that, “If you are wondering what made me think of you, all the stuff I’ve seen says that families like you are struggling with money and can’t buy houses or food” and “I hope things get better someday.”

It takes about a couple hours each week to make the jewelry, but Laura said she plans to continue even after she returns to school in the fall.

Motivating her is a reminder written in pink and green marker across the bottom of her display board: “Hope and faith.”

“Hope is for the name of the shelter and faith is because I have faith that (the women there) will get back on their feet again,” Laura said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm