8-year-old busker raises more than $1,500

Sheila Short, mother of Amber Schneider, accepted the money from Ildi and Sophia Nylen on Saturday. Sophia, Juneau's youngest busker, gave the $1,562 in cash and two gift certificates in a cookie jar. (Photo courtesy of Ildi Nylen)

Sheila Short, left, accepted money from Ildi Nylen, right, and Sophia Nylen, center, on Saturday. Sophia gave $1,562 in cash and two gift certificates in a cookie jar to Short, the grandmother to the family whose Twin Lakes home burned down last month. (Photo courtesy Ildi Nylen)

Juneau’s young busker with a cause raised more than $1,500 for a local family who lost their house to a fire.

Sophia Nylen, 8, played the violin in downtown Juneau for 10 hours last week over six days.

Besides the cash, Sophia’s mother Ildi Nylen says people also gave gift certificates.

“Tourists mostly gave the small change and locals gave the big amounts. The biggest one was the $200 gift certificate and the $200 in cash from one individual whom I could not catch. I asked Sophie if she remembers and she said, ‘Somebody who was wearing a blue sweatshirt and a big smile,'” Nylen says.

Through Facebook, Sophia’s busking effort spread outside of Juneau. Donations came from Wasilla, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Reno, Nevada.

On Saturday, Sophia presented the money to Sheila Short, the mother of Amber Schneider. Schneider and husband Lucas Schneider lost their Twin Lakes home to a fire last month. They have three sons.

“I don’t think she expected anything but I think the amount exceeded what anybody could hope for from Sophie, so she could not stop saying, ‘Thank you,'” says Nylen.

Sophia didn’t come away from the experience empty-handed. Some listeners brought her gelato and hot chocolate. She says she even found surprises in her donation can.

“I found a $5 Canadian in there. I found lots of cool coins. My mom exchanges what I want to keep if it’s, like, really special, like the Canada $5 is really special, so I kept that,” Sophia says.

Sophia is taking a break from busking. If she does it any more this summer, it’ll just be for fun.