Culver City high school student raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

By Alex Hutton

Miller partnered with Sorrento Italian Market, so anyone who donates at least $100 will receive a coupon for a free meal from Sorrento that serves five to 10 people.

She’s only in high school, but Sophia Miller is already extending her impact in the world beyond the classroom. Miller is the founder of Lasagna Cures Cancer, a fundraising initiative that uses Italian food to encourage people to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).

A family friend had nominated Miller to take part in Students of the Year, a program that gives students the opportunity to raise money for LLS through fundraising projects they create themselves. After Miller was accepted, the Culver City native began thinking about local businesses she could partner with and chose Sorrento Italian Market.

“I’ve lived in Culver City my whole life and Sorrento Italian Market has always been a big part of the community,” Miller said. “When I was in middle school, they gave us free food for events. They automatically popped [into] my head because they’ve always supported the community.”

The process for the fundraiser is straightforward: anyone who goes to the Lasagna Cures Cancer web page and donates at least $100 will receive a coupon for a free meal from Sorrento that serves five to 10 people. The choices for the meal are ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs and, of course, lasagna.

Miller has been running the operation for slightly over a month at this point and is blown away by the support she has received from Sorrento.

“For the Students of the Year campaign, that was just a lot of meetings and making email lists and stuff like that,” Miller said. “But with Sorrento, it was really just one or two phone calls and emails, because the owner [Albert Vera Jr.] is so amazing and automatically was like, ‘Yes, of course.’ It really didn’t take any convincing or anything. He was like, ‘Whatever you want, we’re in.’”

For Miller, the fundraiser has also given her the opportunity to connect with the general public. The Lasagna Cures Cancer web page allows people to leave comments when they donate. Some donors have used that opportunity to share their own personal experiences with leukemia or lymphoma, and how LLS helped them and their families battle disease.

“It’s really crazy to see how many people are affected by blood cancer and how many people LLS is really helping,” Miller said. “And it’s just really amazing to know I’m helping real people by doing this.”

Although the fundraiser ends on March 6, Miller doesn’t plan to stop doing charity work any time soon. This is evident in her ambition — she hopes to raise $100,000 by the end of the campaign — and her enjoyment of the activity.

“I love doing community service, philanthropic work and stuff like that,” Miller said. “And I know I’m not going to stop doing that.”

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