Chicago entrepreneurs spreading light this holiday season

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LuminAID is sending its solar-powered lights to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. | Provided photo

A Chicago company is hoping to light up areas affected by this year’s streak of strong hurricanes.

LuminAID, which creates inflatable, floating, solar-powered lights that double as phone chargers and serve as a resource for disaster relief, has made charity a part of their business model, delivering several thousand lanterns to disaster areas without power.

Creators Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta have partnered with relief organizations in Asia, Africa, South America, and most recently, the Caribbean, mainly Puerto Rico, and the southern United States through their “Get Light Give Light” program. LuminAID gives every customer the option to add a second $10 light to their order that will be donated to someone in need.

“Light is so helpful in maintaining some level of a normal life,” said Stork, who traveled to Puerto Rico with Sreshta in October to team up with one of their distributors, Convoy of Hope.

Both creators visited disaster areas, handing out LuminAids that will help light the island, and allow individuals without power to recharge their cellphones.

“It’s become such a big part of everyone’s life to stay connected to people so phones these days are just a part of everyday life,” Sreshta said. “Having a charged phone helps you get back to a normal life as much as you can after a disaster, and gives people some sort of comfort and connection to their friends and families.”

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While their newest invention is more about decoration than disaster aid the LuminAID Smart Solar Garden is still giving back. The new lights come in geometric shapes meant to light up your backyard, garden or pool in a variety of colors, controlled through a bluetooth connected app.

Announced on Kickstarter with a goal of $20,000, more than 500 backers have fully funded the project, and LuminAID is donating one light for each backer.

“The goal is to connect people to the idea that light is a transformative tool and it brings people together,” Stork said. “Getting one of these sustainable solar lights for yourself will also provide someone else with a sustainable form of lighting.” If the Kickstarter, which runs through Thursday, reaches $100,000, LuminAID will donate one thousand more lights.

LuminAID is sending its solar-powered lights to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. | Provided photo

LuminAID is sending its solar-powered lights to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. | Provided photo

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