Wood you believe it? High school sophomore shows gratitude to health care workers with gift

April 02, 2021
A group of about 20 health care employees standing outside behind a hand carved wooden American flag
A group of MUSC Health front line care team members – ranging from security personnel to nurses – gathered to receive a gift from 16-year-old Lorenzo Liberti. Photos by Sarah Pack

This pandemic has been difficult on people of all of ages – none more so than teenagers. 

In normal times, high school kids would be hanging out, going to each other’s houses, grabbing meals together, playing sports. It’s a formative time in a young person’s life. But these aren’t normal times. And Lorenzo Liberti isn’t your normal teenager. 

That’s because the 16-year-old Bradenton, Florida, native has something most high school sophomores often lack: perspective. Lorenzo, whose mother works in health care, got to hear firsthand what the front lines were like in the midst of one of the deadliest pandemics in our nation’s history. And those tales were frightening. Lorenzo quickly realized there was a new type of hero – one who wears scrubs instead of tights and a cape – that deserved to be recognized. 

“Their courageous efforts and strength are inspiring everyone across the world,” Lorenzo said. “They are risking their lives – and some are even dying – to serve their communities.” 

Close up of hand carved American flag in red, white and blue 
Each flag takes Lorenzo approximately 20 hours of work to finish.

Lorenzo's father had kept on him about needing to be productive over the summer of 2020, and so, he decided to kill two birds with one stone – and he started tinkering with wood in the family’s workshop. The end result of that tinkering was a beautiful, hand-carved wooden half-scale American flag. He knew he wanted to give it to the hospital where his mother worked as a way of saying thanks, but little did he know that that donation would lead to community interest well beyond his wildest dreams. 

Soon, people all over – not just Florida but nationally – were clamoring for more. And with that increase in demand came an idea: What if he made one for a hospital in each state? He would take donations for supplies and anything extra he raised would go to homeless veterans – another type of hero that Lorenzo feels is often underappreciated. From that idea Heroic Flags was born. 

For South Carolina, he chose the Medical University of South Carolina. And on a sunny March day, a small ceremony was held in the Horseshoe where the flag was presented to MUSC employees. The finished product is a brilliant red, white and blue painted flag. On the back is a simple message from Lorenzo: “Thank you for your service.”

Close up shot of back of wooden flag showing where artist signed it with the inscription thank you for your service. 
To date, Lorenzo has made more than 60 wooden flags.

“Just knowing that there are members of the community out there who are thinking about front line workers is really inspiring,” said Sunday Tuk, principal donor liaison, MUSC Office of Development. “I can’t overstate how much it means to our health care team members to know just how much they are appreciated.” 

Hospital leadership is currently deciding on the perfect place to display the gift – which will be accompanied by a commemorative plaque and a photo of the day it was received – but right now, the money is on Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion. 

“It just makes sense that something so inspiring done by a child would be displayed in a place where other children and their families could appreciate it,” said Tuk.

Since last summer, Lorenzo has made more than 60 flags – some for states and others for individuals making sizeable donations to his cause. He said each flag takes about 20 hours to make. That's nearly 1,200 hours of work spent carving and painting. His goal is to raise $50,000 making flags. He’s almost halfway there already. To learn more or inquire about getting one of your own, visit heroicflags.com.