This video highlights the service projects led by 2015-2016 Lone Star Leadership Academy Alumni Council members. You may read about each of the members and their individual projects, below. You can also download a printable newsletter with this info and read about past years' members projects in our annual Lone Star Leadership Academy Alumni Council Newsletters!
Nathaniel R., 2nd year member. Project: Make Supporting the Rainbow Room Part of Your New Year's Resolution! - Nathaniel and his sponsor collected items to give to teenagers taken into foster care by Child Protective Services. They collected five boxes of clothes, three boxes of toiletries, and monetary donations. The Rainbow Room used the proceeds of the project to provide needed items to kids who are less fortunate. Nathaniel said, “Through this project I learned how to better organize myself and set priorities.” Sponsor: Seana Towler, CASA Program Director.
Vincent I., 8th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Help for the Flint Water Crisis - Vincent and the National Honor Society at O'Donnell Middle School were very concerned with the safe drinking water crisis in Flint Michigan. They decided to collect water and connect on a school-to-school level so the kids of Flint would know that others are concerned about them and want to help. Vincent said, "This project helped me to see that, as a leader, I should be able to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions for problems we all could face." Sponsor: Son Nguyen, Teacher.
Gezae T., 7th grader, 3rd year member. Project: Summer Food Collection for Kids - Gezae and her friends collected food for needy children and donated it to Allen Community Outreach. The donated food will help feed children during the summer so they can enjoy doing other fun summer activities. Gezae said, "I gained a sense of selflessness because these kids didn't have the things that I take for granted everyday." Sponsor: Melissa Tesfaye, Mother.
Kylie E., 8th grader, 1st year member. Project: Houston Humane Society - Kylie recruited two of her fellow classmates to help pets without homes who are at the Houston Humane Society. They collected over 200 items which completely filled three recycling bins. The items were given to the Houston Humane Society. The project helped the girls learn organizational skills and responsibility by helping out the local animal shelter which was grateful for their donation. Kylie said, “Organizing this fundraiser really helped me develop a sense of responsibility and helped me work on my time management skills.” Sponsor: Amy Gardziel, Teacher.
Taylor P., 8th grader, 1st year member. Project: Mitts For Kids - Taylor saw a lot of students at bus stops without mittens or gloves. She recruited fellow Lone Star Leadership Academy camper Emily Holmes to assist with collecting mittens and gloves to be given to the 300 students at Big Sandy Elementary. Taylor and Emily collected 571 pairs of mittens; not only enough for all Big Sandy Elementary School students but also for several area daycare facilities. The girls were overwhelmed when they saw the number of kids wearing the mittens. This project showed the girls that even the smallest of gestures can have a big impact. Taylor said,“I was overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of support that I received. It gave me the confidence to step out and lead this project. I have also become a stronger leader in my school.” Sponsor: Sara Turrentine, NJHS Sponsor.
Jax W., 5th grader, 1st year member. Project: New Student Welcome Packets - Jax put together 144 packets for his school to distribute to new students. In addition to school information, Jax included information that would be interesting to kids, such as the location of local parks, sports information, community resources, club enrollment forms, after school programs, and lunch delivery options. Jax wanted new students to be excited about their new school and to feel a sense of belonging. Jax is very proud of his school and community and wants new students to feel the same. Jax said, “I wanted new students to know that our small town has a lot to offer, and it is cool being a kid here. As I gathered and compiled the information for the packets, my communication skills with various organizations and businesses dramatically improved. I hope new students now feel welcome to both school and the community.” Sponsor: Brandy Williams, PTO Officer.
Sophia D., 9th grader, 3rd year member. Project: Snack Packs for Northwest ISD - Sophia recruited over twenty friends and family to help collect food for Northwest ISD's Snack Pack program. Sophia and her recruits collected 1,107 food items, which she and her mother used to make 203 snack packs. These snack packs will be distributed to students who depend on school lunches for their main meal. The snack packs provide extra food for these needy students during the rest of the week. This is a project Sophia has done for several years and it continues to grow and help more students each year. Sophia said, “Time management and taking responsibility by doing what you say you will do in this project have definitely helped me grow as a person. I am so proud of the growth of my project and I love knowing my work is for a good cause.” Sponsor: Kristina Czekaj, Teacher.
Kinley M., 10th grader, 3rd year member. Project: Clyde Clothes Drive - Kinley recruited most of the students in her high school to help collect clothing for her community. Altogether they collected 10 bags of clothes and distributed them to those who needed them. The people who received the clothing items were grateful for her help and happy that someone cared enough about them to help them out. Kinley said, “I love helping out my community because I know not everyone is lucky enough to have clothes, shelter, or food all the time. Seeing the look on people's faces when they receive the help they need and they know someone cares about them just makes me very happy and grateful that I can help others.” Sponsor: Misti Kingston, Teacher.
Keslyn S., 9th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Christmas Giving at the Ranch - Keslyn organized the Smithson Valley cheerleaders to provide a wonderful Christmas for the 33 children who live at St. Jude's Ranch for Children, a group foster home. Keslyn spoke with the house moms and then put together lists so each child would receive a personalized snack bag and gift. She had each cheerleader pick a number, 1-45. Numbers 1-33 had the name of a child from the Ranch and for which a cheerleader provided a personalized snack bag, snacks, and a gift the child had requested. Cheerleaders that selected numbers 34-45 were asked to put in $20 each. This $200+ was used to purchase a set of dishes, a set of silverware, a can opener, a cook book, an ice cream scoop, and a kitchen towel for each of the five houses on the Ranch. It was indeed a wonderful Christmas at St. Jude's Ranch for Children. Keslyn said, “This project required lots of organization and commitment but everyone was excited to help. The rewards for all of us were amazing. The children and the house moms were so grateful for the snack bags, gifts, and home goods for the houses. I feel like my teammates and I really did something special for these kids.” Sponsor: Kourtney Wallace, Cheer Coach.
Paige H., 7th grader, 1st year member. Project: Coats for Change - Paige enlisted members of her church, Community Christian Church of The Woodlands, to collect new and gently used coats, jackets, and button-ups. She collected 50 items for the Montgomery County Women's Center and Shelter which benefits women and children seeking safety and help from abuse. Sometimes the women and children have to seek shelter in a hurry, forcing them to leave with nothing. They are very grateful for anything they receive and a coat or jacket is a good start. Paige said, “I really enjoyed serving my community. It is always humbling, and rewarding at the same time, to help those in need.” Sponsor: Joann Chiu, Children's Assistant Minister.
Ethan S., 8th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Cove House Clean Up - Ethan, with the help of two friends, delivered three dining sets that had been collected for the Cove House Homeless Shelter's Transitional Housing. The three boys also spent a morning cleaning up the grounds of the Shelter's main facility. Five Brothers Lawn care provided the lawn equipment to aid in the clean up. Cove House was appreciative to have their yard cleaned up and excited to receive the dining furniture which replaced the worn out furniture they had. Ethan said, “Initially I found it difficult to find workers because of the manual labor of the yard work. However, perseverance paid off and my small crew worked hard and we got the job done.” Sponsor: Brian Hawkins, Director of Cove House Emergency Homeless Shelter and Youth Director at Refuge Ministries in Copperas Cove.
Brianna T., 8th grader, 4th year member. Project: Wings for Women - Brianna recruited volunteers at her cheer gym, Gymbix, to help her collect donations for Refuge Corporation, an emergency shelter for homeless single women and children. In addition, Brianna and another volunteer participated in a Thanksgiving food drive. They helped with the collection and bagging of the food and then passed out Thanksgiving meals to low-income families who could not otherwise afford a Thanksgiving dinner. Brianna said, “These two projects helped me see how much good can be accomplished when we all work together towards the same goal.” Sponsor: Jennifer Czuhajewski, Teacher.
John B., 11th grader, 4th year member. Project: Christmas Cards for the Elderly - John recruited many of the children at his church to help create Christmas cards for the residents of Magnolia Place Nursing Home in Liberty, TX. John then delivered each card personally to a resident. The residents were very happy to get the cards the children had made because many of them don't have friends or family who come to see them. I really enjoyed seeing the joy on their faces when I gave them a card. John said, “I learned the importance of making those who are less fortunate feel special, even if only for a little while.” Sponsor: Kerri Bartee, Director of Christian Faith Formation, St. Joseph and St.Anne Catholic Church.
Anna B., 9th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Project Bridge Haven - Anna and two classmates collected supplies for Bridge Haven Center, a children's advocacy center for sexually abused kids in the Liberty County area. They also collected cash donations from the community and raised $351.77 which they used to buy toilet paper, water, juice, toys, books, games, and stuffed animals to add to their donated supplies. Anna said, “This experience helped me and my team become more responsible, outgoing, and educated about the needs of some children in our community. This project made a lasting impression on me and many other people." Sponsor: W.T. Brothers, Youth Pastor.
Ceanna C., 9th grader, 4th year member. Project: Food for Thought - Ceanna and her mother held a food drive. The collected over 250 food items and raised $70 to buy food-in-bulk for a local food pantry. Ceanna also volunteered at the food pantry. She helped put together many meals for those who could not provide for themselves. Ceanna said, “It was a good experience to get involved with the food pantry and see what the needs are in my community. I have to say, the thankful smiles weren't too bad either!” Sponsor: Blake Fentress, Lieutenant Colonel and AFJROTC Teacher.
Amara W., 8th grader, 1st year member. Project: Children's Books for Ronald McDonald House - Amara helped families of sick children staying at the Ronald McDonald House by providing items to help them pass the time. She organized a book drive at school and collected 505 books, puzzles, and movies to donate. The Ronald McDonald House staff was very excited. Amara said, “One person can make a difference but getting 900 students to help can produce fantastic results.” Sponsor: Tracy Kriese, Teacher.
Helen H., 9th grader, 1st year member. Project: Mobile Art Program Winter Crafts Sale - With the help of her sister, Helen spent over 20 hours turning old artwork into handmade greeting cards and bookmarks for the Mobile Arts Program, an organization in Austin dedicated to bringing the joy of art to disabled adults and seniors. All the handmade cards and bookmarks were sold at the Mobile Art Winter Crafts Sale. The money Helen raised will help cover the program's costs of visits to local nursing homes, adult day care, and Alzheimer respite programs. Helen said, “I learned that even if I was working mostly alone, I could still get things done and make a difference, no matter how big or small.” Sponsor: Theresa Zelazny, Founder of Mobile Art Program.
Kadyn B., 5th grader, 1st year member. Project: Everybody Has A Story -Kadyn recruited two friends to interview senior citizens in her hometown and then write articles about them. Kadyn discovered that Electra is filled with more history than she ever imagined! Her project helped create a legacy for the residents of Electra. Kadyn said, “It was a real surprise to me to hear the interesting stories of our long-time residents. I learned to take the lead and work hard on a project. I am proud to write a bit of history for people in my community to read and to leave my mark for all to know.” Sponsor: Jackie Roebuck, Community Volunteer and Neighbor.
Deanna D., 9th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Tree of Hope - In support of cancer research and/or treatment, Deanna recruited two of her friends to help her create the Tree of Hope. They gathered 150 lights which were sponsored by community members. These lights were hung on a 14 foot tall metal tree in downtown Electra. The Tree of Hope brought a lot of Christmas spirit and cancer awareness to the community. Deanna said, “Because our small oil town has been hit hard by the falling oil prices, I encountered a few setbacks with my project, but with hard work and dedication, I was able to help bring our community together to raise cancer awareness!” Sponsor: Dee Buchanan, Teacher.
Madison T., 11th grader, 7th year member. Project: Yarn for Youngsters - Madison and a friend, along with members of Key Club, worked together to make items to give to Texas Children's Hospital. Together they made 30 stuffed animals, 10 quilts, 20 hats, and various other items for a total of 200 different things which they donated to the hospital. The project had a great impact on everyone involved, from the volunteers to the children. It is great to give the children in the hospital something special. Madison said, “I was able to effectively work with a large group of people which yielded great results. This was a real test of my leadership skills and I learned a lot. It was nice to work alongside my friends and do something really special for the children who are patients at Texas Children's Hospital." Sponsor: Kimberly Taylor, Nurse at Texas Children's Hospital.
Victoria S., 8th grader, 1st year member. Project: FCMS Honors Band Spirit Night - Victoria held two spirit nights at local restaurants, Wing Stop and Red Mango. The restaurants donated 50% of their earnings for the night. Victoria raised almost $1,000 to help defray the cost of the school Honor Band's trip to Indianapolis to participate in the Music For All Nations Festival. She organized her band friends to help in the making of flyers and school wide announcements. Publicity was the key to the successful spirit nights. Victoria said, “I originally planned to have three restaurants participate in Spirit Night; unfortunately, one backed out. This incident helped me to become a better leader by teaching me to overcome obstacles and adapt to change. I was very proud of the amount of money raised.” Sponsor: David Berndt, Associate Band Director.
Aniruddh S., 8th grader, 1st year member. Project: The Cube Club - Aniruddh created a Rubik's Cube Club open to all students at his school. The club educated the interested students about the concepts and methods of a wide range of Rubik's puzzles, and benefited over 30 members. In addition to helping the students strengthen their problem-solving skills with Rubik's cubes, the club impacted students by cultivating important values like determination, handling failures and successes, valuing different perspectives, and collaboration - all key skills they can use in their lives. Aniruddh said, “I take the initiative to ensure every member enjoys and learns more and more each meeting. The news about my club spread and it was put on our school website. I felt good once I saw the impact I was having on my club members, and that my actions had made me a better leader. My club is growing each day with more members joining in.” Sponsor: Joseph Bernhart, Teacher.
Emma L., 8th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Manna Bags for the Homeless - Emma wanted to help the homeless in and around Houston. She recruited students from her Soo Bahk Do Martial Arts Studio and asked them to collect items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, Tic Tacs, hand sanitizers, tissues, chopsticks, hand towels,granola bars, water bottles, and rain ponchos. Once these items were collected, she then asked the students to come to the martial arts studio to help assemble the items in bags. They assembled 50 bags and then each student took a bag with them to distribute to the homeless person of their choosing. Emma said, “I can't possibly help everyone in need, but I can make a difference by lending a helping hand to one person at a time. We also included notes/drawings that truly came from our hearts. I hope the recipients could feel all the love that we included in our Manna Bags.” Sponsor: Ron Williams, Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Martial Arts Instructor.
Kisana N., 7th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Toy Drive - Kisana held a toy drive and collected toys throughout her neighborhood and at her mother's place of employment. She collected a total of three bags filled with toys. Kisana donated the toys to the Lebanon Baptist Church. Every year the church has a project called Operation Christmas Child where they gather up toys and send them to places in need. The donations helped to make Christmas a happy time for kids who wouldn't otherwise get much of a Christmas. Kisana said, “I learned it is always a rewarding gift to give back to the community and give back to a person in need.” Sponsor: Erin Sparks, Texas History Teacher.
Anang P., 11th grader, 4th year member. Project: Books for Children's Hospital - Anang recruited several friends to help collect printed materials to be donated to the Children's Medical Center of Plano. Together they collected over 100 items, including books, magazines, and art supplies. The donations will benefit both the hospital visitors and patients, and will allow them to have a better time during their stay at the hospital. Anang said, “I feel that I was able to grow my leadership skills through this project. I have worked with Children's Hospital of Plano before and I was very happy that I could contribute to them once again. I like being able to contribute to my local community.” Sponsor: Kushangi Parikh, Mother.
Vedika P., 5th grader, 1st year member. Project: School Supply Drive - With the help of two friends, Vedika conducted a School Supply Drive. The group collected $70 which they used to purchase packets of markers. The markers were then given to J.W. and Ruth Christie Elementary School to be given to needy students. Vedika said, “I feel that I became a better leader by leading this project. I know that I benefited from this project and I was very happy to be able to help others.” Sponsor: Melissa Dinger, Teacher.
Cooper S., 7th grader, 1st year member. Project: Tutoring Days - Cooper recruited three classmates to help him tutor elementary students. Cooper worked with the teachers of the students who needed tutoring to be sure that he was covering material that the teacher felt was important. The project gave elementary students positive role models and the teachers were very grateful for the additional help. Cooper said, “I feel that I learned a lot about how to lead a project and make sure everything was ready to go when it was time for the students to come for their tutoring. I learned that being a leader is not only fun, but also benefits everyone around me.” Sponsor: Regena Hunt, Teacher.
Harper D., 5th grader, 1st year member. Project: Pastries for Paws -Harper along with five of her Destination Imagination teammates organized and hosted eight bake sales at Greenwood High School varsity basketball games. They earned a total of $610. All profits from the bake sales went to the Midland Rape Crisis and Children Advocacy Center's PAWZ for Kids program. This is a therapy dog program at the Center. There are approximately 30 therapy dogs that regularly volunteer with their owners to sit with child victims of sexual abuse when they come to the Center for interviews and/or therapy. The monetary donation was great, but the students also successfully raised community awareness for an amazing program supporting children experiencing abuse. Harper said, “I encountered many instances when all my teammates could not participate or contribute. I learned to not become frustrated, but instead to lead by example and always put forth my best effort. It felt great to remain dedicated to an important cause. I was happy to make sacrifices in order to help these abused children. The money collected from the bake sales also surpassed our monetary goal and we were all excited about that.” Sponsor: Heather Brown, School Counselor.
Taylor C., 9th grader, 3rd year member. Project: Food for Friends -With the help of her church youth group, Taylor collected food to provide Easter dinner for needy people at several local churches. Once the food was collected, it was sorted and delivered to the other participating churches. All the recipients were grateful and seemed to have a good holiday. It was great to see their happiness and know that we had a part in making it happen. Taylor said, “This project allowed me to help lead my church youth group, if only for a short time, and that meant a lot to me. It also felt really good to help families who were less fortunate to have a happy Easter holiday.” Sponsor: Pharris Garcia, Youth Director.
Brylee S., 8th grader, 1st year member. Project: Project Christmas - Brylee organized a Christmas party for the senior citizens of Dickens County. It was held at the North Dickens County Senior Citizens Center. The Guthrie Common School elementary students entertained them with Christmas songs while the junior high and high school students served snacks and played bingo and card games with the citizens. Brylee also organized a canned food drive so that each senior citizen was able to take home some canned goods. Brylee said, “I enjoyed being with all the students and the senior citizens. I learned that it is important to step out of my comfort zone and become a leader and have fun.” Sponsor: Lynn Hill, School Counselor.
Emalee C., 8th grader, 3rd year member. Project: Toy Cars and Teddy Bears - Emalee gathered her classmates to help her do a Toy Car and Stuffed Animal Collection Drive for children who are patients at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. A young cancer survivor once told Emalee that he was always excited to get a new toy car after receiving his treatment. She was really inspired by him. Together, Emalee and her friends collected over 100 toy cars and stuffed animals that are now being enjoyed by patients receiving various treatments at the hospital and making their day a little brighter. Emalee said, “It was a great experience to donate to these children who are experiencing tough medical issues. It was my honor to carry out this collection drive in memory of an inspirational young lady, Brooke Hester, who recently lost her battle with cancer.” Sponsor: Julie Chappa, Mother.
Tim H., 9th grader, 1st year member. Project: Performing Christmas Music for a Euless Nursing Home - Tim and four other members of the Harwood Junior High Wind Ensemble went to Legend Health Care and Rehabilitation in Euless and presented a wonderful Christmas program for the residents. The residents joined in singing Christmas carols and loved visiting with the young people. Approximately 20 residents attended the program. Tim said, “Despite some minor setbacks, I learned how to use the resources around me to put together an event. Using my organizational skills was very important to this project. Also, the other students and I gained valuable performance experience. The residents seemed to have more Christmas spirit after our program and that was great to see.” Sponsor: Doyle Belville, Band Director.
Maura C., 9th grader, 1st year member. Project: Gaylord Pantry Food Drive - Maura Chapman recruited her two siblings and a few other students to help her collect canned foods. Gaylord's Pantry, a part of the First United Methodist Church in Sweetwater distributes about 700 sacks of groceries per week, so they are always grateful for any donations. Maura and her team collected 116 canned food items which they delivered to Gaylord's Pantry. Maura said, “I really enjoyed this project. I feel that it has allowed me to learn about time management and how to become a better leader. I also liked collecting the food knowing that it was for an extremely worthy cause.” Sponsor: Dawn Huckabee, Teacher.
Camille A., 8th grader, 4th year member. Project: Brownies for Benefit - Camille and four of her friends raised $200 which they donated to Child Advocates, a non-profit organization that helps victims of child abuse. They raised the money by baking and selling more than 400 brownies at school, at church, door-to-door, and to different organizations. As well as learning the process to be followed and the amount of effort that goes into holding a fundraiser, each of the girls learned a lot about public speaking by explaining to people what Brownies for Benefit was raising money for; what is Education in Action; and what is Child Advocates. Camille said, “I learned how to educate, persuade, and inform the public about a cause that most people don't like to think about. The girls who helped me also became better public speakers. We were all happy to speak on behalf of these abused children.” Sponsor: Susan Skipton, Girl Scout Leader.
Rohit D., 10th grader, 4th year member. Project: Math Tutoring -Rohit tutored 9th grade students in Algebra II for more than six months at DeBakey High School. The students who attended the tutoring sessions learned the concepts thoroughly which improved their academic performance. Rohit said, “By tutoring students, I realized that knowledge shared is knowledge squared. The students improved their math skills and I gained absolute mastery of Algebra II and the satisfaction of helping my fellow students.” Sponsor: Virginia Hayward, School Counselor.
Mara M., 10th grader, 3rd year member. Project: All You Need Is Love - Mara recruited six members from her high school's National Honor Society and together the group made 100 cards to distribute to Pflugerville Care Center residents on Valentine's Day. Their cards made the senior citizens feel happy by reminding them that they are loved. The recipients of the cards were very grateful to be remembered on Valentine's Day. Mara said, “ I learned valuable leadership skills, like how to lead and organize a group, throughout the course of this project. It felt very good to see the impact that such a small effort on our part had on the senior citizens.” Sponsor: Denise Adams, NHS Advisor.
Sam W., 12th grader, 6th year member. Project: Weekend Care Packages - Sam worked with his theatre department to collect nonperishable food for an elementary student who sometimes does not have food over the weekend. To date, they have delivered over 10 pounds of food and are continuing to help this student. Sam said, “I always love to see the impact the smallest actions can have on others.” Sponsor: Patty Steely, Teacher.
Braydon T., 7th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Coats for St. Francis Outreach - With the help of his brothers, Braydon collected coats from area athletic teams and friends. Six large moving boxes full of coats and jackets were delivered to the St. Frances Outreach Thrift Store for resale. Revenue from these sales will benefit a local food bank and other charities in the area. Braydon said, “The generosity of others helped us exceed our goal. It felt very good to know my brothers, friends, and I were able to help those in need.” Sponsor: James Flynn, Reverend.
Amalia M., 8th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Kuddles '4' Kids - Amalia (Molly) McClure and three of her school friends, collected 49 stuffed animals which they donated to the Watauga Police Department and a local homeless shelter. The majority of these stuffed animals will be given to children who have suffered a traumatic experience. It is our hope that these stuffed animals give them comfort in their time of need. Amalia said, “I was surprised that this project was more difficult than last year's. I had to alter my plans. I organized a fundraiser held two nights at Chick-fil-A to be able to purchase the bears instead of relying on donations. Having to change my plans allowed me to grow my leadership skills by adapting and overcoming the obstacles that were set in my path.” Sponsor: Tim Berube, School Counselor.
Brandon R., 10th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Pet Supply Drive - Brandon and his mother sent a mass email to nine nearby neighborhoods announcing they were holding a pet supply drive to collect donations for the Austin Animal Shelter. People dropped off their donations during the drive held on April 9th. Many items were collected including dog bowls, pet blankets, leashes, collars, and many bags of dog food. Brandon said, “I learned that if you can get a community involved, anything can be accomplished.” Sponsor: Melody Morton, Teacher.
Connor W., 7th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Lovepacs -Lovepacs was born out of Connor's wish to help children who may only eat due to the free/reduced meal programs in schools, and perhaps not at all during school breaks. Connor recruited his two younger brothers to help collect food donations in his neighborhood. The response was so overwhelming that he then recruited his church group for a packing party where they packed 30 boxes of food. That was enough to cover the food needs of 30 children in Lewisville ISD for each of the 16 days of Christmas break. Connor said, “When so many of us have so much more than we need, no one should go hungry. This whole experience was amazing, and it was so heartening to witness the generosity and willingness of others to come alongside me and help serve those less fortunate.” Sponsor: Lori Dunn, Church Lifegroup Leader.
Julianne S., 5th grader, 1st year member. Project: Super Hero School Supply Drive - Julianne recruited five friends to help her collect school supplies for the Liberty School District students who needed assistance for the spring semester. They collected enough items to make 60 bags of school supplies which were given to needy students. Julianne said, “I had a fun time working with my friends and learning that some students may need a little help. It doesn't hurt to try to be nice!” Sponsor: JoAnn Gillaland, Teacher.
Bradon L., 7th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Helping Hand for Elders - Bradon enlisted the BETA club to host a school-wide puzzle drive and Christmas card making workshop. The group collected 35 puzzles and made 60 Christmas cards. Bradon and eight other BETA members then delivered the puzzles, cards, and baked goods to area senior citizens. The students also raked and cleaned up yards to help these senior citizens. The extra puzzles and Christmas cards were delivered to the Lone Oak Senior Center and Operation Blue Santa. Bradon said, “We were surprised at how happy the senior citizens were when we showed up at their houses to rake their leaves and give them presents. I learned that being a leader isn't just helping, but also getting others to help you and keeping them focused on the task.” Sponsor: Louann Derryberry, Junior BETA Coordinator.
Olivia W., 7th grader, 1st year member. Project: Scarves and Blankets for the Homeless and Needy - Olivia worked with five friends to make 50 scarves and 15 blankets for the homeless in Fort Worth and the elderly in the Mansfield area. The scarves and blankets provided the recipients with warmth and comfort during the colder months and also showed them that others cared about them and wanted to help. Olivia said, “This project made me realize how good it felt to help others less fortunate than myself.” Sponsor: Blake Lindsey, Teacher.
Judson G., 7th grader, 1st year member. Project: Restocking the Melissa Food Pantry - Judson recruited two of his brothers to help restock the Melissa Food Pantry with much needed food items. The Food Pantry specifically asked for peanut butter, jelly, bread, canned fruit, oatmeal, rice, cereal, and beans. Judson was able to collect over 350 of the pantry’s most wanted items to help the residents of Melissa and surrounding areas. The less fortunate received food that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. Judson said, “I learned how to better manage my time and that helping the community can be harder than it sounds; but in the end, it's all worth it.” Sponsor: Alexandra Eichel, Teacher.
Ryan C., 6th grader, 2nd year member. Project: San Luis Pass Beach Clean Up - Ryan organized his second annual beach clean up near the San Luis Pass in Galveston. He recruited 25 friends, neighbors, and family members to collect dangerous rope,glass, and plastic along the beach. Together they collected more than 10 large garbage bags of trash that would otherwise threaten marine life and disrupt sea turtle breeding patterns. Ryan said, “It is satisfying to be able to help protect threatened animal species so we can enjoy them for many decades to come. I found that others were willing to help if someone just organizes the project.” Sponsor: Dottie Eichman, Teacher.
Samuel F., 6th grader, 1st year member. Project: Rainbow Room Blankets - Sam recruited his mom to help him make 20 large twin-sized fleece blankets for the Rainbow Room in Montgomery County. The Rainbow Room is a volunteer-led emergency resource storeroom for Child Protective Services agents to provide basic survival supplies for children who have been removed from their homes due to neglect. The blankets, which took Sam approximately one month to complete, were delivered to the Rainbow Room a week before Christmas. Since the Rainbow Room is supported by volunteer donations and receives no federal funding, their need for blankets was very great, and they were extremely appreciative! Samuel said, “Making 20 blankets was a big undertaking and took a long time but, in the end, it was totally worth it. For some kids, the warm blanket they get from the Rainbow Room will be the only blanket they have. These kids are scared because of their home situation. By giving them a blanket, I feel like I'm able to give them a hug just when they need it the most.” Sponsor: Patti Fralick, Mother.
Ethan B., 6th grader, 1st year member. Project: Collecting Cleats -Ethan collected gently used soccer equipment for the Sport Quest Inc. Second Kick Ministry Program. He was able to donate over 30 pairs of soccer cleats, 15 pairs of shin guards, and numerous soccer balls. The Second Kick program recipients received soccer equipment they would not be able to afford themselves. Ethan said, “I learned how generous my community and friends were through their donations.” Sponsor: Robert Heflin, Community Member.
Lindsi T., 8th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Tutoring for the Future - Lindsi tutored the UIL 5th grade Number Sense participants at her school, Navarro Junior High. She loved every minute of helping other students learn to love UIL competitions as much as she does. Lindsi said, “The best leader gains wisdom from young minds.” Sponsor: Donna Ewald, Teacher.
Jeremy A., 8th grader, 1st year member. Project: Treats for Police -Jeremy, with the help of his brother Matthew and a friend, baked desserts for the New Braunfels Police Department. They made various items, including toffee, lemon squares, and brownies. These baked goods were delivered to show the students' appreciation for the hard work police officers do. Jeremy said, “We learned how to work efficiently and cooperatively in order to make these appreciation treats for our local police department.” Sponsor: Kristen Bryant, Teacher.
Matthew A., 7th grader, 1st year member. Project: Treats for Police -Matthew, together with his brother Jeremy and a friend, baked a variety of treats including cookies, toffee, and brownies to be given to the New Braunfels Police Department. The members of the police department were very grateful for the special treats. Matthew said, “It feels good that my friends and I were able to help contribute to the people who protect us every day and let them know that we appreciate everything they do for us.” Sponsor: Kristen Bryant, Teacher.
Talee O., 7th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Kid Knits: Winter Hats Donations - Talee recruited friends and family members to knit 10 hats from Kid Knits: Winter Hats. The hats were donated to 10 children in need. Kid Knits are kits you can buy with yarn made from sheep's wool by hand. Each Kid Knits purchase provides salaries for families living in poverty in Rwanda and Chile. This project impacted the participants by showing them there are families living around the world in poverty that we could never imagine that are trying to make a better life for their families. Talee said, “As we have helped change lives, this will help the future of all of us. Putting a smile on another's face is priceless and it feels awesome to contribute to children in need on the other side of the world.”Sponsor: Mary Katherine Carter, Friend.
Reagan B., 10th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Stuffed Animal Drive for the Children's Advocacy Center of Paris - Reagan hosted a stuffed animal drive at Aikin Elementary School and, with the help of the students, collected more than 120 stuffed animals. These stuffed animals were donated to the Children's Advocacy Center of Paris to be given to children who have been abused. The stuffed animals will help emotionally support children who have been affected by abuse. Reagan said, “I learned how important helping other people is, and how simple it is to make someone's life better.” Sponsor: Lori Benson, Mother.
Eli W., 7th grader, 1st year member. Project: Dodgeball Tournament Supporting Candlelighters - Eli recruited two classmates to help him host a dodgeball tournament at Berry Miller Junior High School to benefit Candlelighters - Childhood Cancer Family Alliance which provides emotional, financial, educational, and practical support to families of children with cancer. Eleven teams entered and they raised over $600 which will benefit pediatric cancer patients and their families. Every participant was made aware of how having a child in treatment for cancer affects families. They also saw how all of us working together could be so helpful to these patients and their families and make a real difference. Eli said, “This experience helped me learn how to grow a small idea into something bigger which could help many people.” Sponsor: Holly Moreno,Teacher.
Melissa A., 9th grader, 1st year member. Project: Books to Africa -Melissa recruited her fellow INTERACT (a group of students organized for the purpose of volunteering) members to participate in Rotary Books for the World. This organization sends textbooks and books for 'the joy of reading' all over the world, and specifically to Africa. The students of Dawson High School benefited greatly from packing and sorting 3,000 books to send to over 25 developing schools throughout Swaziland and South Africa. In addition to getting a great workout from lifting so many books, the students learned how a group of students can truly impact other nations. Melissa said, “By getting my classmates to work together, I was able to strengthen myself as a leader by putting together a team and keeping them on task despite how tedious the task was. In the end, everyone was excited to see what an impact we had.” Sponsor: Teri Zuteck, Interact Leader.
Jordan C., 8th grader, 1st year member. Project: Thank You Bars -Jordan recruited two friends and together they made 100 Thank You Candy Bars which were given to the entire staff at Dessau Middle School. They were able to show appreciation to the school staff for all the hard work they put in everyday on behalf of the students. The staff was very appreciative of this small gesture. Jordan said, “I was challenged with finding a date to work on my project because our schedules are so busy. But I was committed to completing my project no matter what and, in the end, we made time to get the job done and we were all glad we did. This made me a stronger leader because I was committed to completing my project.” Sponsor: Melissa Thrash, Administrative Intern.
Gabriella Z., 5th grader, 1st year member. Project: Elementary School Coat Drive - Gabriella enlisted her school principal and fellow students to help with a Coat Drive for Tim's Coat Closet, a group in Gabriella's community that accepts new and used coat donations. People in need of a warm coat are welcome to come to Tim's Coat Closet and select one; it's not just a one time event. This was the first time our local elementary school kids participated in helping for a good cause. It got the very young involved early! Gabriella collected over 100 coats for kids and adults in the Rio Grande Valley. Gabriella said, “I learned that I can be a leader within my own school and positively influence others to participate and help our local community. It made me feel good to be able to help people close to home who are in need.” Sponsor: Adrian Karr, Principal.
Téa M., 9th grader, 1st year member. Project: Books for the Family Place - Téa and six friends worked together to collect books to be donated to the Family Place., a shelter for those seeking safety from abuse. They collected 27 books for people staying at the Family Place to enjoy. The group learned that books are appreciated and enjoyed by almost everyone. Téa said, “I learned that even simple books can have an impact on someone's life.” Sponsor: Tammy Spann, Teacher.
Jordan S., 8th grader, 1st year member. Project: Performing for a Reason - Jordan and two friends put together several performances for the senior citizens at Preston Wood Court. With dancing, singing, and music the girls put a smile on all the residents' faces. The girls visited with the residents after the show and enjoyed getting to interact with everyone. Jordan said, “Throughout the process my friends and I had a lot of fun contributing each of our ideas to create an amazing performance for the residents. They were all very appreciative.” Sponsor: Corrie Rubenstein, Teacher.
Aiden P., 7th grader, 1st year member. Project: Birds in Our Backyard - Aiden created a photo book to benefit the rehabilitation of Paradise Pond Birding Center in Port Aransas. He included photos of birds taken throughout the town. With the help of some community members, he sold the book and donated all proceeds to purchase natural trees and plants for the pond due to the removal of a large number of Brazilian Peppertrees (an invasive species). The project was beneficial to the preservation of nature as well as educational for both Aiden and many others in the community. Aiden said, “I learned a lot about the invasiveness of Brazilian Peppertrees and that sometimes, what seems to be a bad thing initially, the removal of trees from a nature preserve, can actually provide us with an opportunities to come together as a community to make things even better than they were before.” Sponsor: Rae Mooney, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Project Manager.
Carl L., 6th grader, 1st year member. Project: Canned Food Drive - Carl led a canned food drive for the North Texas Food Bank. He collected 296 pounds of food which will provide 247 meals for chronically hungry children, families, and seniors in North Texas. Carl said, “The food drive was more difficult than I anticipated because of the great response but I was very proud that we could make such a nice donation and the workers at the North Texas Food Bank were very grateful.” Sponsor: Becky Martinez.
Alexis M., 8th grader, 4th year member. Project: Socks and Smiles -Alexis wanted to help the residents at the Windsong Rehabilitation Center. She organized a sock drive to collect socks for each of the residents. In addition, she helped decorate all the residents' doors so they would have something pleasant to look at in the halls and remember that someone cares about them. Alexis said, “As a leader, this was a call to help and assist others. I learned that even a small gesture can make a huge impact on someone's day. Hopefully I inspired others to help as well.” Sponsor: Mark Manley, Robotics and TSA Director.
Kaitlyn J., 12th grader, 4th year member. Project: Peer Tutoring -Kaitlyn tutored a third grade class in Wheeler ISD everyday, from September until the beginning of March, to help them with schoolwork, studying for spelling tests, and practicing reading. By tutoring these students she helped them better prepare for their upcoming STAAR tests. Kaitlyn said, “I was able to see that not all students learn and study in the same way. This experience helped me find new ways of learning for myself.” Sponsor: Lacie Franks, NHS Sponsor.
Caden B., 6th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Outfitters - Caden enlisted the help of his school's Student Council to collect over 1,000 pieces of clothing for the Whitehouse Food Pantry. The Student Council filled over 80 large bags with clothes to be donated. The Whitehouse Food Pantry then distributed the clothes to local residents in need. Caden said, “This project was a lot of work, but the reward was great. I also learned how to keep others interested and motivated until the job was finished.” Sponsor: Travis Splinter, Principal.
Elisabeth T., 12th grade, 5th year member. Project: In-Sync Exotics Supply Drive - In-Sync Exotics is a non-profit organization that helps rehabilitate abused or mistreated 'big' cats. Elisabeth, with the help of her fellow National Honor Society members, collected over $500 worth of supplies varying from toilet paper to laundry detergent. The items were donated to In-Sync following the two week donation drive. The staff of In-Sync was very appreciative of Elisabeth's support, and Elisabeth was very thankful to have been able to help an organization that always needs help taking care of the 'big' cats. Elisabeth said, “I had a great time delivering all of the supplies to In-Sync and seeing the surprised faces of the employees when I opened my trunk and supplies literally were falling out. It makes me feel great to have contributed to such a great organization that works for such a great cause.” Sponsor: Michelle Lindsay, NHS Co-Advisor.
Khalia S., 7th grader, 3rd year member. Project: Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth Donation Project - Khalia recruited several students from her 7th grade math class to help her collect items for the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth. Because there are always families of sick children staying there, the Ronald McDonald House has an on-going need for bath, bedroom, and kitchen supplies. Every month a wishlist is sent for what is needed most. Khalia's goal was to be able to donate $400 worth of wishlist items. The group exceeded the goal and was able to collect $475 worth of items. The families staying at the House will appreciate having these items available to them. Khalia said, “I love giving back to my community because it gives me such joy to know that my contributions are needed and appreciated.” Sponsor: Trevor Simon, Father.
Blake J., 7th grader, 1st year member. Project: ChapStick Collection for Meals for the Elderly - Blake recruited three friends to help him collect ChapSticks for Meals for the Elderly. They collected 427 ChapSticks in one week from their school. These ChapSticks were given to the disabled and home bound elderly of San Angelo through Meals for the Elderly. Blake said, “I was given a chance to be a leader of a small team thatcollected ChapStick for the Elderly of San Angelo. My teammates helped me become a better leader along the way.” Sponsor: Paige Southwell , Teacher.
Allison Byrd, 9th grader, 1st year member. Project: Books for Kids - Allison, with the help of her neighborhood and school community, collected 300 new books, magazines, and movies for the patient library at Texas Children's Hospital-Downtown. In addition to individual donations, Allison was given $1,000 from Scholastic Books through the help of her school librarian, Angie Condley, to purchase more new books. The donation helped with an immediate and constant need at Texas Children's and was a rewarding and humbling experience for Allison. Allison said,“Working together with my community and school showed me that I could take something I had as a personal goal and make it bigger and better by enlisting the help of others. I have enjoyed every minute of this project and hope to grow this program even more in the future.” Sponsor: Diane Elliott, Teacher.
Anna K., 10th grader, 5th year member. Project: Christmas in the Summer - Anna and a group of volunteers she recruited solicited donations from local companies such as Costco and the Courtyard Marriott for the Ronald McDonald House in Houston. The donations were distributed among the housed families to provide them with a small gift, personal toiletries, and sweet treats during the summer months. Anna said, “Leading this project helped me develop my time management, organization, and communication skills, making me a stronger leader.Being able to contribute to my community, specifically the Ronald McDonald House in Houston, was my favorite part.” Sponsor: Kimberly Long, Teacher.
Erica P., 10th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Feed the Need -Erica organized, set up and publicized Feed the Need, a clothing and food drive during the season of Lent. Bins were set up at school, and students and staff were encouraged and reminded to donate items for the less fortunate in our area. Erica said, “This experience helped me to educate and encourage my classmates about the importance of sharing and compassion for those who are less fortunate than we are.” Sponsor: Ruth Barton, Administrative Assistant.
Matthew D., 9th grader, 2nd year member. Project: Feeding The Hungry - Every week for six months, Matthew and three other volunteers worked at the food pantry at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church. The group packed and distributed enough bags of food for an average of nine families each week. During this six month project, Matthew and the others learned a lot about each other and the recipients of the food they packed. Matthew said, “I have learned a lot about myself, my group, and my community through this experience. We were able to make a real difference in our community by using teamwork and good communication skills. I am very proud of our group and the work we did." Sponsor: Mike Day, St.Vincent De Paul Food Pantry Supervisor.
Antonio F., 5th grader, 1st year member. Project: Community Garden - Antonio recruited five friends to help with a project that allows families and friends of the East Dallas Community to plant a spice and vegetable garden that brings supplementary foods to homes in our church community. The produce from our efforts will serve and bless at least 50 families. Antonio said, “I encouraged my friends to help me with the gardens. We had a wonderful experience and now each of them enjoys giving back to the community, too.” Sponsor: Jeffery Parker, Pastor.
Hayden M., 10th grader, 5th year member. Project: Support for Serene Hills Elementary School Carnival - Hayden and 25 members of his Boy Scout troop cleaned up the landscaping at Serene Hills Elementary School in preparation for the school's Spring Carnival. He then recruited family and friends and raised $418 for the school to provide carnival tickets to local families who could not afford them. He and five friends also signed up as volunteers on the day of the Spring Carnival. Hayden said, “In taking on multiple roles to fund and assist the event, I was able to get a better perspective about what it takes to hold events like this.” Sponsor: John Rocklin, Teacher.
Kollin F., 11th grader, 4th year member. Project: Project Neighbor Tree-Branching Out to Those in Need - Kollin, along with three Teen Board Members, stood outside Walmart and asked patrons to donate personal care products for the Project Neighbor Tree Foundation. Then six KSB (Keep Sevier Beautiful) members helped sort and package the personal bags for distribution to the Sevier County Food Ministries Program. In April, Kollin distributed 500 personal bags to families of all sizes who were in need of basic personal care products including: deodorant, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. Kollin said, “Starting and maintaining Project Neighbor Tree was difficult at first; however, with the help of those in my community, I have been able to have a positive impact on those in need.” Sponsor: Heather Overbay, Teacher.