This video highlights the service projects led by 2016-2017 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! To check out previous service project videos, click here.
Nathaniel R., 3rd year member. Project: Making the Season Brighter by Donating Today - Again this year, Nathaniel helped the Rainbow Room by collecting supplies that were needed by teenagers taken into foster care by Child Protective Services. “Perseverance is everything. Without it you can never attain your goals. Though this year I had to go above what I had thought I needed to do, I was still happy to help Rainbow Room.” Sponsor: Seana Towler, CASA Program Director.
Christina R,. 1st year member. Project: Music To You - Christine and 13 of her orchestra classmates gave a Christmas performance to the residents of Autumn Leaves of Pearland, a facility for Alzheimer's patients. In addition to playing holiday music, the students made Christmas cards and prepared goodie bags which they gave to each resident after the performance. “I organized this service project and it showed me how much responsibility and patience is needed to work with my peers and to keep a program organized and on track.” Sponsor: Stacy Wells, Nolan Ryan Junior High Orchestra Director.
Katrina L., 1st year member. Project: One Paw at a Time - Katrina enlisted the help of several classmates and National Honor Society members to help her with her increase awareness regarding adoption of animals at the Arlington Animal Shelter. They held a one-day event and collected $214 in monetary contributions, dog food, cat food, towels, blankets, dog toys, dog bowls, paper towels, bleach, and vinegar. In addition, the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection provided 178 low cost vaccines. “I learned that it is a lot harder to plan and organize a service project that it seems. I feel like now I have acquired the skill to overcome almost any issue that is thrown my way. I certainly feel as if this project helped me grow as a Leader and show all those who helped me how great it feels to serve the community.” Sponsor: Andy Hagman, Principal.
Brini B,. 2nd year member. Project: Cat Lives Matter - Brini volunteered with Austin Pets Alive on the cat foster team. She helped to rescue and rehabilitate six special needs felines successfully finding them all new fur-ever homes. “Fostering special needs cats has shown me that I can make a difference in their lives and also help Austin continue being a no-kill city.” Sponsor: Kristen Molanda, Cat Marketing Manager.
Phoebe D., 1st year member. Project: Holiday Surprise - Phoebe recruited her Girl Scout Troop to help her make Christmas gift boxes for six children in the care of Child Protective Services. Each box contained candy, small toys, ChapStick, toothbrushes, and a $15 gift card to Target. “Even though the project took planning and a lot of time, the feelings I had when reading the thank you notes the kids wrote back made the whole project worth it.” Sponsor: Sarah Purdy, Girl Scout Troop Co-Leader.
Jax W., 2nd year member. Project: Spring Break Food Drive - Jax enlisted the student council to conduct a food drive to provide meals for students who would be home alone during the break without school-provided breakfasts and lunches. The food drive generated approximately 600 pounds of food which was given to the Bower Food Pantry for distribution. “The best evidence of a good leader is a team that can continue the work in his absence. I assigned jobs to my team members and had to trust each person to get the job done, so we could come together with a job well done.” Sponsor: Brandy Williams, Parent.
Erin G., 1st year member. Project: Random Acts of Kindness in Memory of #ZEKESHEROES - Erin and her family did Random Acts of Kindness in their community in memory of Zeke Quintanilla. They named the group #zekesheroes. In Zeke's memory, Erin and her mother and sister baked and distributed goody bags filled with cookies and chocolate covered pretzels to the staff of Carrizo Springs Intermediate and Carrizo Springs High School. They also delivered goody bags at Rio Grande Electric Co-op, where Erin's mother works. In order to help raise money for her brother's powerlifting team trips, they also sold goody bags at the concession stand during powerlifting events. And lastly, Erin has two cousins being treated for Krabbe disease in Philadelphia. The whole family has been there for several months. Through bake sales and kickball tournaments, Erin and her family made Easter boxes to send to their family in Philadelphia. Erin plans to continue doing Random Acts of Kindness in Zeke's memory. “Because both of my cousins are fighting for their lives, I have learned not to take time or life for granted. I will continue to do good for my community in honor of #MarcusandMariah and in memory of #zekesheroes.” Sponsor: Lori Ann Martinez, Parent.
Sophia D., 4th year member. Project: Snack Packs for Northwest ISD - Sophia has grown this project for several years and it has really taken off thanks to her great organizational skills and persuasive information. This year Sophia collected over 750 actual meals and almost 4,000 food items which were made into snack packs for Hatfield Elementary School students. These meals and snacks will be distributed to all Hatfield students who qualify for free or reduced lunches. “I am very proud that my project continues to grow each year and that we can help more students. As my project has continued to grow, so has my appreciation for community service and all those who volunteer their time and talents.” Sponsor: Kimberley Deras, Parent.
Daniel R., 2nd year member. Project: Brothers Give - Daniel recruited his brother, Tristan, to help him collect items needed by those in Dallas area shelters, particularly Stewpot and Crossroads Community Services. They were particularly interested in helping the homeless and victims of domestic violence. The boys collected toys, over 200 shirts, 100 pairs of pants, 20 pairs of shoes and other clothing items. The boys were humbled to learn of the need that exists in the D/FW community and were excited to be able to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. “This project taught me to be resilient. My original plan was foiled, but my brother and I were able to come up with another and, ultimately, achieve our goal of helping others.” Sponsor: Alexis Fortt, Youth Counselor.
Erin B., 4th year member. Project: Pay It Forward - In a neighborhood elementary school, Erin distributed 40 silicone bracelets to the students. The purpose of the bracelets was for the students who received them to pass them on to someone who is discovered doing a good deed. This would continue for a certain period of time. “It was very rewarding to see how quickly the bracelets were being passed around and how many good deeds go completely unnoticed by most of us. Now people were recognized for doing good for someone else.” Sponsor: Terri Hutto, Teacher/CHS BETA Sponsor.
Tiana W., 1st year member. Project: Changing the Lives of Kids in Need - Tiana played and sang for kids with disabilities at the Galveston Ronald McDonald House and persons who had been through a life-changing event at Hope Village in Houston. All those who were able to attend one of Tiana's performances seemed to enjoy themselves and hopefully this musical program, in some small way, helped them recover from their "wounds" mentally. “Not everyone is as fortunate as I am, so I wanted to try my best to help those in need in the most entertaining way I could and hopefully allow them to forget their situation for a while.” Sponsor: Samantha Pulse, WAVE Liaison.
Keslyn S., 3rd year member. Project: Christmas at the Ranch - This is Kesyln's second year to do this project. This year I was excited to be able to include St. Jude's Teen Parent Program in New Braunfels. There are 5 homes at St. Jude's Ranch for Children and 1 home at the Teen Parent Program in New Braunfels. Again Keslyn organized the cheerleaders and staff to help her with this project. Each cheerleader, manager, and coach drew the name of a child or teen and a list of some of their favorite things. Then we each filled a Christmas bag full of favorite snacks, drinks, gum, clothes and toys or other favorite things. The kids at the Ranch and Teen Parent program opened their gifts on Christmas morning. “At the end of the day, it's not about what you have or even what you have accomplished…it's about who you've lifted up; who you have made better. It's about what you have given back.” Sponsor: Lisa Daigle, Teen Leadership.
Paige H., 2nd year member. Project: Paige's Produce Benefitting Interfaith of The Woodlands - Paige recruited her mom and other volunteers of The Veggie Village to guide her though choosing the produce to plant and then to harvest produce for those in need in her community. Working on weekends and some Tuesday mornings, she planted collard greens, carrots, radishes, and strawberries. Unfortunately, due to an "out of nowhere one day freeze" and an infestation of harlequin beetles, her harvest turned out to be about 5 pounds. Of course Paige is not giving up and has now planted bush beans, cantaloupe, and cucumbers for the summer. She is hoping for a more successful harvest at the end of summer. “This is my first garden, so it's a learning process. I encountered several setbacks with the freeze. I look forward to the upcoming year with what I planted for those in need in my community.” Sponsor: Sarah Mundy, Interfaith of The Woodlands Veggie Village Community Garden Coordinator.
Sansdhitha A., 1st year member. Project: Saving Our Planet Through Recycling Awareness - Samantha helped raise awareness for the need for recycling in her neighborhood in Irving, TX. She created a recycling information toolkit which included: a pamphlet on the do's and don'ts of recycling; a recycle bag; and a reusable bag for grocery shopping. Sanasdhitha visited 10 neighborhood homes and explained to them what items should be recycled and items that should not be recycled. She then gave them the recycling reading material and bags for future use. “I was proud that I was able to initiate and plan my activities and then reach out to my neighborhood and make a positive impact on my community.” Sponsor: Samantha Cast, Teacher.
Ethan S., 3rd year member. Project: Face Painting for a Cause - Ethan set up a face painting booth in conjunction with his church's annual community event, "Backyard Round-Up". For the past 18 years they have offered a car show, live music, children's activities and barbecue plates, all free of charge to the community, as well as set up donation jars to support the local Emergency Homeless Shelter and Transitional Housing. Ethan recruited 9 other teens and adults to help him. They painted more than 100 children's faces throughout the day free of charge. “I enjoy being artistic and I liked seeing the smiles as kids viewed their new look in the mirror. Those of us painting figured out which drawings we were best at and then would give tips to each other or swap kids depending on their request. We truly worked as a team and I was very proud of our efforts.” Sponsor: Jodi Swanner, Parent and Event Coordinator.
Brianna T., 5th year member. Project: Cans for the Cubs - Brianna recruited friends and some family members to help collect cans for recycling. This recycling project was to support the Boy Scouts who raise funds which they use to buy items for the Copperas Cove Soup Kitchen. There are several benefits to collecting cans for recycling -- clean up the community, help Scouts with fundraising and earning patches all the while helping the Copperas Cove Soup Kitchen. “I was proud that my project helped our community come together to achieve a common goal of helping and supporting our diverse population.” Sponsor: Roxanne Patrick, English Teacher.
Haleigh C., 1st year member. Project: Things 4 U - Haleigh helped the residents of Homestead of Hillsboro with a number of special activities and also everyday tasks. She gave manicures to the women. She helped those residents who wanted to decorate their rooms and doors for the different holidays and/or birthdays. She was also willing to run errands for them. All the residents appreciated her kindness very much. “During this project, I learned how to be a leader even in the smallest situations. The project also taught me that I can help others who need. I really enjoyed doing that.” Sponsor: Shannon McLain, School Staff.
D'Angelo W., 2nd year member. Project: Backpacks for the Homeless - My father has a bike club and he carries out charitable acts through this club. I joined him to help spread awareness of the club and the need for riders help raise funds to purchase backpacks. These backpacks are filled with essentials to make life a little easier for homeless people. We were able to purchase and fill 10 backpacks. “I learned to speak up and spread awareness of what is necessary in life.” Sponsor: Joel McEwen, Uncle.
John B., 5th year member. Project: New Sign for Church - John, along with the help of his Boy Scout troop and the church community of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church will be building an updated sign for the church. This is part of John's Eagle Scout project and one that is very close to his heart. As this is John's last year on the Alumni Council, he wanted to do a big project that would benefit his community, especially members of his church. The project is expected to be completed by mid-summer. “I learned how to take the initiative for completing a large project, while being aware of when I need to ask for help.” Sponsor: John Bartee Sr., Scout Leader.
Anna B., 3rd year member. Project: Build Their Spirits - Anna recruited two classmates and they gathered supplies and spread the word about a community-wide project held at Kenefick Southern Baptist Church called "Build Their Spirits". They helped community members make spirit sticks for the Life Skills students of Dayton ISD. The spirit sticks included an uplifting and encouraging letter and some Hershey's Kisses. The spirit sticks were also decorated with stickers, sparkles and other craft items. “My project showed me how to take charge and communicate more efficiently. It also helped me learn to appreciate my life and situation as well as helping open the eyes of others.” Sponsor: W. T. Brothers, Youth Pastor.
Elizabeth P., 1st year member. Project: Help the Animals - Elizabeth recruited her Girl Scout troop to help collect money, Dawn dish-washing liquid, cat and dog food, cat litter, toys, bedding, and cleaning supplies for the Wise County Animal Shelter. In total she donated $300 and over 100 individual items. “I was able to coordinate different age groups and elementary school campuses to accomplish the goal. All our hard work and determination paid off and I loved doing this project.” Sponsor: Teresa Pack, Parent/Girl Scout Co-leader.
Ceanna C., 5th year member. Project: Food for Thought - Ceanna enlisted help from her neighborhood and community to gather food for The Shepherd's Hand in Denton. She brought in over 100 food items and spent time volunteering at the food pantry. “Although it was difficult, the end result was worth the effort. I think everyone should step out of their comfort zone to help others whenever possible.” Sponsor: Gloria Cooksey, Teacher/Parent.
Helen H., 2nd year member. Project: Cupcakes For a Better Place - Helen, along with fellow council member Amara Weier, organized a bake sale of cupcakes from a local bakery. The money raised was given to ShelterBox and the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), to help improve the lives of refugees around the world. The girls sold about 300 cupcakes and raised $515.50 to donate to their chosen charities. “I enjoyed this project very much because not only did I get to work with awesome people, but I was also able to help others around the world as well.” Sponsor: Megan Nyitray, School Psychologist.
Amara W., 2nd year member. Project: Hey Cupcakes' for ShelterBox and MOAS - Amara partnered with fellow Alumni Council member Helen He to raise funds for the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) and ShelterBox, which provides emergency aid to communities around the world overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis. The girls worked together to purchase assorted gourmet cupcakes from "Hey Cupcakes" to sell during Westlake High School lunch sessions over a two-week period. Not only were they able to raise funds for these worthwhile charities, they also had the opportunity to engage with their high school administrators and have a lot of fun. “Raising much needed funds for MOAS and ShelterBox has taught me that by applying my talents and focusing my passion for helping people, I can really make a difference in people's lives.” Sponsor: Megan Nyitray, School Psychologist.
Deanna D., 4th year member. Project: Tree of Hope - Deanna recruited two members for her Relay for Life team to help raise money for cancer research and treatment. They put up a 14-foot metal tree downtown and for every $10 donation they changed a white light bulb to pink on the tree. They sold 28 lights and raised $280. “Cancer has impacted my family tremendously, so knowing that I raised money to help find a cure and help families who are dealing with this dreadful disease makes me feel good.” Sponsor: Dea Buchanan, Relay for Life Coordinator.
Charlize L., 1st year member. Project: Warm Coats, Warm Hearts - Charlize, along with her brother and sister, collected 364 winter coats and jackets at three locations: Settlers' Way Elementary, WCP-St. Laurence Catholic School, and the Traditional Karate Center. They donated the coats and jackets to three organizations: Fort Bend Women's Center (a shelter for survivors of domestic or sexual violence and their children); Star of Hope (a shelter for homeless men and women and their children); and Youth Immigration and Detention Center (a detention center for children rescued from human trafficking and gang violence). Charlize's project started with just her family but more joined the effort as word of her project spread. Ultimately, 16 different families joined to help. “My project began with a wish. An 11 year old girl like me only wanted a fleece jacket for Christmas. I was touched because she asked for a basic need and not a toy. It made me think of how many children need coats for winter and I found so many of them. I wanted to help as many as I could. I have been forever changed by this experience so I have decided to make this my yearly service project. This project helped me become a better leader because I had to step out of my comfort zone to be able to talk to school principals and business owners to set up coat collection boxes. I also spoke during my school's morning announcements to convince my schoolmates and school staff to donate coats. I am proud of how many people were able to keep warm with 'new' coats.” Sponsor: Jamaimah Lopez, Teacher/Parent.
Aniruddh S., 2nd year member. Project: Art Dreams - Aniruddh created and organized an art competition, 'Art Dreams', to support families in need and promote the core concept of Art Dreams which is 'I do art because I want to make a difference.' Twenty-seven students participated in the competition held at the Sugar Land Art Center and Gallery. Aniruddh raised $135 from the art submissions and donated the funds to the Shared Dreams Foundation of Fort Bend ISD. “I realized that executing Art Dreams was much harder than generating the idea itself. Essentially, I learned to enhance my communication skills, make quick decisions, and improvise as I progressed through my project in the pursuit of helping others.” Sponsor: John Day, Teacher.
Madison T., 7th year member. Project: Stuff(ed) For Kids - As Key Club Vice President, Madison recruited other Clements Key Club members to meet every other week to make hand-made stuffed animals for Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. They made about 150 stuffed animals for children confined to the hospital for long periods of time. “I am glad that my final service project was such a success. I could not have done it without the help of the Key Club members. This project strengthened my ability to lead and inspire a large group of people. My service project made a lasting impression on the Key Club members and I am proud to say they will be doing more service projects like this one. I am glad I could have such an impact on my school and greater community.” Sponsor: Amber Muscarello, Teacher/Clements Key Club Sponsor.
Emma L., 3rd year member, Project: Shared Dreams: Holiday Cheer - Emma created a SignUpGenius to provide holiday gifts and seven gift cards to a needy family. People donated items from the SignUpGenius wish list and friends helped Emma wrap the gifts. “I discovered that it doesn't take a lot of effort to have a real impact on others' lives. I feel like I am contributing to my community, one family at a time.” Sponsor: Mary Foteh, Volunteer/Friend.
Khalia S., 4th year member. Project: Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth Donation Project - Khalia recruited several students from her 8th grade technology class to help her collect items for the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth. The Ronald McDonald House has an on-going need for bath, bedroom, and kitchen supplies for the families of sick children staying there and a monthly wish list of what is needed most. Khalia's goal was to donate more than last year's $400 worth of wish list items. The group exceeded that goal and collected $1750.50 worth of items. “This is my second year doing this project and I get so much enjoyment in doing it each year.” Sponsor: Julia Simon, Parent.
Juan L., 1st year member. Project: Christmas for the Poor - Juan recruited five friends to organize food drives at both Friona Elementary and Friona Junior High Schools. The collected food was donated to the High Plains Food Bank for the winter season. The goal was to collect 200 items, but the group collected about 1,200 items. This project benefited underprivileged citizens in the Panhandle. “This experience taught me how to organize events and then to lead them to the conclusion.” Sponsor: David Muir, Teacher.
Cayson E., 1st year member. Project: Renovation for Operation Kindness Pet Therapy Facility - Cayson recruited nine friends and family to help repair the pet therapy section of the Operation Kindness shelter in Carrollton. This shelter helps with the rehabilitation of animals who have been injured and/or require surgery. The shelter was built 11 years ago and damaged by a tornado in May 2016. Cayson and his crew tore out the damaged areas, posts, and steps and put in all-new wood where needed. They stained and sealed the wood and power washed the gazebo area. Because of safety concerns this area had not been used since the tornado. Now, thanks to Cayson's crew, it is again a functioning part of the Operation Kindness shelter. “I experienced several setbacks with this project due to inclement weather. However, knowing that this part of the shelter can once again be used for treating injured animals made it all worthwhile. I was able to apply lots of math skills to a real life situation. Also, I was very pleased that the people I asked to help me were as dedicated to the project as I was.” Sponsor: Stephanie Dickason, Physical Therapist/Pet Therapist.
Kisana N., 3rd year member. Project: Canned Food Drive - Kisana recruited her friends to help her with a canned food drive. They collected four boxes of non-perishable food for community members in need. “I learned how to get my friends to work together to accomplish our goal and to be responsible for what I say I will do.” Sponsor: Sonto Mamba, Parent.
Vedika P., 2nd year member. Project: School Supplies for Students in India - By setting up a GoFundMe page for family and friends, Vedika collected $550 which was used to buy basic school supplies for 87 students at the Cherital Government Primary School in Jabalpur, India. Each student receoved a backpack with a notebook, pencils, markers, etc. “I learned that even when you can't see the change you have made, it still has a real impact on the lives of others.” Sponsor: Melisa Dinger, Teacher.
Anang P., 5th year member. Project: Books for Kids - Anang recruited several friends to help him gather donations for Frisco Family Services. Together they collected over 100 books, art supplies, and other materials. These items benefitted several children and families in need. “I really enjoyed developing my leadership and organization skills while making an impact in my local community.” Sponsor: Kishangi Parikh, Parent.
Kamy A., 1st year member. Project: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Paper! - Kamy worked with another council member, Cooper Sims, and set out boxes around their school to recycle paper. They collected 20 large bags of recyclable paper and raised awareness about the importance if recycling and the impact it can have on the school community. “This was a fun project and one that helped our school see how easy and important it is to recycle. I was proud to lead this project.” Sponsor: Regina Hunt, Teacher.
Cooper S., 2nd year member. Project: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse! - Cooper and fellow council member Kamy Adams conducted a recycle project by putting several boxes around their school to collect items recyclable items. “I learned how much paper goes to waste and how easy it is to recycle it.” Sponsor: Regeia Hunt, Teacher.
Brylee S., 2nd year member. Project: Warriors 4 Warriors - Brylee recruited family and friends to help her with bake sales to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project. Through four bake sales they raised $500 for the Wounded Warriors Project. “I had some minor planning issues in the beginning but I was able to work around them.” Sponsor: Lynn Hill, School Counselor.
Emalee C., 4th year member. Project: Coloring for Cooks - Emalee and her fellow students donated 300 coloring books to Children's Medical Center and Cook Children's Hospital in Dallas/Fort Worth to help young patients undergoing medical treatments. “I developed a greater sense of community involvement with this project. Donating these items to the hospitals has impacted my perspective on how one small gift can change a person's life.” Sponsor: Julie Chappa, Parent.
Maura C., 2nd year member. Project: Pillows for Patients - Maura recruited her siblings and her grandmother to help make hand-sewn pillows. They made twenty unique-shaped neck pillows for cancer patients at the Texas Oncology Center in Abilene. These pillows allowed the patients to be more comfortable while receiving treatment and it allowed Maura to visit with the patients to make their day a little brighter. “I will never forget the joy on the patients' faces. That joy allowed me to realize that teamwork and good deeds can create leaders who can make a huge impact on people's lives. This project was worth every hour my team and I put into it just to see that happiness on their faces.” Sponsor: Jaci Chapman, Parent.
Camille A., 6th year member. Project: Action in Akay-Kalinga - Camille raised about $350 by selling baked goods. Camille has family members living in Zamboanga, Philippines. Through her family, she was able to connect with the Akay-Kalinga Centre for Street Children. She used the money she had raised to buy small toiletries, personal care items, and food (pansit, chicken and drinks) for the children at Akay-Kalinga. The students received all the gifts in time for Easter. “I was challenged by the obstacle of the distance from Houston to the Philippines but overall I think it forced me to improve my communication skills.” Sponsor: Amalia Masiglat, National Honor Society Sponsor.
Rohit D., 5th year member. Project: Tutoring - At DeBakey High School, Rohit tutored 9th and 10th grade students in Algebra 2 and Precalculus two or three times a week for three months. The students who attended the tutoring sessions learned the concepts thoroughly and their understanding of the content greatly improved. “Tutoring helped me gain mastery of the subject. It also gave me immense satisfaction to share that knowledge with my peers.” Sponsor: Virginia Hayward, Counselor.
Kendall O., 1st year member. Project: Action Through Art - Kendall recruited his parents for his service project benefiting Southwest Glen Mission, a 501(c)3 organization and multi-housing Apartment Mission, which provides much needed programs for youth in low-income families. Kendal and his parents taught 17 children at Southwest Glen Mission to express their ideas of making the world a better place through artwork. The children were shown how to design and create a one-word art piece that would stand out as a totem to unify the world. “Although the students were young, as am I, together we learned we had the power to change the world one word at a time.” Sponsor: Cicely Ward, Assistant Principal.
Mara M., 4th year member. Project: Texas Day - Ray Elementary School celebrated Texas Day and Mara recruited members of National Honor Society, Health Occupations Students of America, and the Leadership, Experience, Opportunity Club at her school to help the students make crafts about colonial Texas. The kids made cowboy hats out of paper, pin wheels, and flowers out of tissue paper and pipe cleaners. Through the project, the elementary students had fun learning more about colonial Texas. “This experience made me a better leader by helping me learn valuable communication skills, especially when talking to younger children.” Sponsor: Denise Adams, National Honor Society Sponsor.
Braydon T., 3rd year member. Project: Honoring the Elderly - Braydon recruited classmates to help him paint rocks with inspirational and/or happy sayings. Braydon and his friends then visited with residents at area nursing homes and passed out the painted rocks as keepsakes for the residents. “Painting the rocks was a lot more time consuming than I thought it would be. I certainly learned a lot about time management and planning.” Sponsor: James Flynn, Pastor.
Trevor T., 1st year member. Project: Visiting with Senior Citizens - Trevor and two of his soccer teammates went to a neighborhood nursing home/senior citizen center to visit with the residents. They had painted rocks with inspirational sayings and gave them to the residents with whom they visited.Trevor hoped the rocks let the elderly know that they are cared about and appreciated. “I learned that being a leader is a lot of hard work. But the reward of seeing how happy we made people made all the work worth it.” Sponsor: James Flynn, Pastor.
Mackenzie G., 1st year member. Project: Project Unity Residential Center - Mackenzie solicited donations for the Project Unity Residential Center where children of all ages are placed when their parents are unable to care for them. Mackenzie collected more than 70 items for the children. “Through this project, I certainly learned responsibility and became a lot more appreciative and grateful for the things I have. This experience helped me improve as a leader because the one and only person completely responsible for the success or failure of this project was me. I had to step out of my comfort zone in order to complete this project. I think I also greatly improved my social skills and ability to talk to authority figures in order to accomplish my goals.” Sponsor: Vivian Fridley-Hereford, Teacher.
Kylie M., 1st year member. Project: Musical Heart Project - Kylie and four of her chamber orchestra classmates played for the Brookdale Champions Nursing Home residents. They played the piano, violin, cello, and viola. At one point, one of the residents joined in on the piano. Kylie organized two performances. “It was fun to perform for an audience. Also, by simply doing little things for others, we can help people, young and old, live a happier life.” Sponsor: Marlene Mendizabal, Parent.
Connor W., 3rd year member. Project: The Big Event - Connor and his family collected donations for the Transition Resources Action Center (TRAC) which provides guidance and support for people coming out of the foster care system and transitioning to adulthood. They also planted flowers, pulled weeds, spread mulch, and cleaned windows at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Carrollton. “Helping others makes me feel happy and I am glad others benefited from my work.” Sponsor: Eve Watson, Parent.
Judson G., 2nd year member. Project: Restocking the Melissa Food Pantry - Judson organized a canned food drive and collected more than 300 items for the food pantry in Melissa, TX. “I learned how to plan as well as execute a project from beginning to end. I also discovered how much fun it can be to help my community.” Sponsor: Reed Greer, Mayor.
Ethan B., 2nd year member. Project: Coat Drive - Ethan collected more than 50 gently used coats and sweatshirts for the Crisis Center of Montgomery. “It felt good to know that I made a difference for those in need in my community.” Sponsor: Allison Faiola, Teacher.
Ryan C., 3rd year member. Project: San Luis Pass Beach Clean Up - With the help of alumni council member Cole Kilgore, Ryan organized his third annual beach clean up near San Luis Pass in Galveston. They recruited several dozen friends, neighbors, and family members to collecttrash along the beach, much of which is threatening the marine life including sea turtle nests in the area. “I am looking forward to continuing this tradition of keeping our beaches clean so that we can enjoy all the marine life for years to come.” Sponsor: Tonya Cockrill, NOAA Advocate.
Samuel F., 2nd year member. Project: Holiday Harvest Food Drive - With the help of his Advanced Texas History teacher Allison Faiola, Sam held a Holiday Harvest Food Drive at school in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The student council members made posters to help get the word out. Sam collected nearly 300 pounds of food which was donated to the Montgomery County Food Bank at their most-needed time of the year. A local businessman pledged $5 for every pound of food Sam collected so, in addition to the 300 pounds of food, Sam also presented a check for $1,500 to the food bank. This $1,500 provided 5,250 holiday meals to hungry people in Montgomery County. “I was surprised to learn that every dollar donated to the Montgomery Food Bank provides 3.5 meals to hungry people in Montgomery County. It was a great feeling to know that my decision to start a Holiday Harvest Food Drive actually made an impact on the lives of so many people. At first I wasn't sure if the collection bins would get filled, but the students really came through and we were able to donate a lot of food. I am so glad I was a part of this project.” Sponsor: Allison Faiola, Teacher.
Cole K., 1st year member. Project: San Luis Pass Beach Clean Up - Cole and his friend, Ryan recruited friends and neighbors to pick up trash along the beach in Galveston. They did this not only to help keep the beach looking nice, but also for the turtles and other animals that are harmed by the trash left by humans. “We learned that contributing to a community effort can be very rewarding and even fun when you are working with good people and for a good cause.” Sponsor: Tonya Cockrill, Friend.
Lindsi T., 3rd year member. Project: Birthdays in a Bag - Lindsi raised over $500 to make 40 bags filled with all of the necessities to have a birthday party. Her project benefitted the mothers at the Guadalupe Valley Family Violence Shelter, Inc. because they were able to have birthday parties for their children. “I enjoyed being able to give birthday parties to deserving kids and families. I know that I can expand my project and I look forward to that process.” Sponsor: Donna Ewald, Teacher.
Emile J., 1st year member. Project: Embody Love Club NSMS - Emile enlisted the help of eight 7th and 8th graders to start an Embody Love Club to help change Nixon-Smiley Middle School students' negative talk about themselves and others, and to spread love, kindness, and unity throughout the school. Through the group's monthly challenges such as Love Tag, Inspirational Post-It Notes, Mustangs On the Move, Suicide Prevention and Coping Skills, Diversity is Great, Body Image, Be Your Own Valentine, and Eggcellent projects, all students received the message that they are valuable and loved. Thanks to the #embodylovemovement, NSMS students were consistently exposed to the idea that they must be the change they want to see in the world. “I've learned that leadership can have its challenging moments, but the small successes make it all worth it. I discovered that everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated for their hard work.” Sponsor: Darby Clardy, Counselor.
Matthew J., 1st year member. Project: Book Donations for Elementary Students in Shanghai, China - Matthew recruited students from church and school to help him collect books at the North Texas Chinese Church and Byron Nelson High School. They collected over 100 books which are now on their way to Shanghai. “I have faced some unprecedented hardships and challenges in my life but by learning critical thinking, speech skills, and leadership skills, I have gained much experience as a leader and public speaker. I hope my friends will be inspired to help me with another project in the future.” Sponsor: Minhe Ji, Parent/Professor.
Talee O., 3rd year member. Project: Stuffed Animal/Book Drive - Talee recruited nine friends to help her collect 26 gently used books and 50 stuffed animals which were given to The Grove Church to be distributed to children in need. “I learned that giving to people in need is its own reward and gives you a really good feeling about how you have helped others.” Sponsor: Triston Buegeler, Friend.
Parker B., 1st year member. Project: Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes - Parker collected small toys and toiletry items at his former elementary school to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, an outreach of Samaritan's Purse. He filled seven boxes to which were donated to children in third world countries. “I was able to bring joy to children who might not receive any other Christmas gifts.” Sponsor: Lori Benson, Parent.
Elijah W., 2nd year member. Project: Chance for Hope Dodgeball Tournament - Eli organized a dodgeball tournament for Berry Miller Junior High students with all proceeds benefitting the Chance for Hope Foundation. From the entry fees, concessions, and generous donations of his peers, Eli raised over $500. The Chance for Hope Foundation will use the money to help provide free lodging and meals for families battling pediatric cancer. “Despite delays and multiple obstacles, I managed to finish strong with the help of family and friends. I am proud to contribute to such a worthy cause.” Sponsor: Holly Moreno, Coach.
Holden H., 2nd year member. Project: Treats for Troops - Holden collected 372 candy bars and over 124 snack items through donations from school and family members. The items were donated to military men and women by way of the Dallas USO Lounge located inside D/FW International Airport. The purpose of Holden's donation was to thank those who serve as they prepare to fly out on deployment or head home to their families. “Making treats available to those who sacrifice so much for all of us was a small, but fun way to remind them they are truly appreciated. Treats for Troops taught me the importance of planning, delegating, and logistical management for large projects.” Sponsor: Richard Perry, Director, Community Service and Social Justice.
Tea M., 2nd year member. Project: Book Donations for the Family Place - The Family Place in Plano provides a safe haven and shelter for family violence victims. Tia collected 30 books from neighbors, friends, and family. She then sorted the books based on age and genre and donated the books to The Family Place. “I learned that all those who seek the help and protection of The Family Place are very appreciative of everything that they receive.” Sponsor: Tammy Spann, Teacher.
Jordan S., 2nd year member. Project: The Need to Read - Jordan recruited two friends to help her collect books to donate to Book Buddies at St. Andrews Church. In total, they collected 34 books from friends and family. Through Book Buddies, these books were made available to people in need. “I am so humbled to know that my friends and I have contributed to our community.” Sponsor: Laura Sullivan, NCL Leader.
Aiden P., 2nd year member. Project: Supporting a Family In A Tragedy - Aiden's friend and classmate since kindergarten, Casey Delay, and his family were involved in a tragic accident during spring break 2017 as they headed home from vacation. Aiden made cards that the community could use to write words of encouragement to the surviving members of Casey's family since Casey did not survive the accident and his eight year old brother was transported via Halo Flight and in ICU for a period of time. The community was very receptive to Aiden's project and lent great support to the family. Casey's family was very appreciative of the words of encouragement and love sent from the community. Aiden was also appreciative of the support his community gave his friend's family. “I learned not to sit back and wait for someone else to act. When I stepped up and organized my project, I felt better, like I was helping Casey's family and I know they really appreciated the support. You need to do what you can to help those in a crisis.” Sponsor: Marie Porter, Parent.
Gabriel S., 1st year member. Project: Delivering Joy and Gifts to the Elderly - Gabriel helped serve breakfast on Christmas morning at the Floresville Nursing Home. He also made goody bags of lotion, candy canes, and cups of fruit for all the residents. “I enjoyed seeing the residents faces light up and their kind words about the joy we gave them on Christmas morning.” Sponsor: DeAnn Pollok, Parent.
Alexis A., 1st year member. Project: Ladies' Day at the Palo Pinto Nursing Home - Alexis and her friend, Kristen, visited the Palo Pinto Nursing Home and spent a day pampering and entertaining the ladies. They provided manicures for all the residents who wanted them. Bringing the ladies down for their manicures and then returning them to their rooms was fun for the girls as well. Later in the day, Alexis and Kristen visited and played bingo with the ladies. “This service project had a very positive effect on both Kristen and myself. It taught me to have patience, be kind, and always cherish my elders.” Sponsor: Mitzi Mann, Teacher.
Levi U., 1st year member. Project: Denison STEM Scouts Startup Fundraiser - Levi recruited two friends and two adults to help him petition local businesses to support the creation of a STEM Scout lab in Denison. They collected $520 to subsidize students interested in joining but unable to pay. Levi's project helped interested low-income students become part of the STEM Scout lab program. “I benefited from this experience because I had to improve my communication skills in order to approach business owners. It felt good to be able to help other kids be able to participate in STEM Scouts lab.” Sponsor: Joyce Ullah, STEM Scout Lab Manager.
Daniel H., 2nd year member. Project: Lemonade for the Soul - Daniel and his younger brother Enrique participated in McAllen's Lemonade Day festivities. They helped raise money to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation which has helped turn millions of breast cancer patients into breast cancer survivors. “Lemonade Day was lots of fun and raised funds for charity and it certainly inspired me to give back to my community.” Sponsor: Fernando Hernandez, Parent.
Chris E., 1st year member. Project: Halloween Party - Chris enlisted the help of his family to provide a Halloween party for the residents of the Atria Senior Living Center. They provided treats and punch for the residents and put up Halloween decorations to keep everything festive. In addition, Chris helped the residents decorate pumpkins so they could display them outside of their rooms. “I really enjoyed seeing the smiles on the residents' faces. It made me feel good to know that I brought them a little happiness.” Sponsor: Miranda Sherrow, Parent.
Caden B., 3rd year member. Project: Hooked on Books - Caden enlisted the support of his school's student council to collect books for the Azleway Boys Ranch. Together they sorted and delivered over 1,000 books to Azleway and now the boys have a full library at their facility. “It was a bigger project than I thought it would be. We exceeded our goal and were able to help our community in a big way.” Sponsor: Meredith Black, Parent.
Malav M., 1st year member. Project: Clothes for the Poor - Malav collected clothing items in his community. He donated the items to Goodwill to help financially struggling individuals and families. “At first I was hampered by my shy nature, but as I spoke to people about my project, I overcame some of my shyness and this experience helped me grow. I found real joy in helping others.” Sponsor: Venktash Mallipudi, Parent.
Allison B., 2nd year member. Project: Books for Kids - With the help of her school and community, Allison completed her second annual 'Books for Kids' drive for Texas Children's Hospital-Houston. She collected over 500 books, magazines, and movies to help make childrens' stays at Children's Hospital a bit more enjoyable. “I know how much books mean to me and I wanted to share that happiness with people who may not experience it nearly enough.” Sponsor: Diane Elliott, Teacher.
Alan D., 4th year member. Project: Strengthening the Disabled - Matthew recruited four friends to volunteer at The Brookwood Community in Brookshire. They helped enrich the lives of about 25 residents through exercise and socialization programs such as biking and swimming. The residents of Brookwood grew in strength physically and emotionally by participating in this supportive workout program. “Through volunteering at Brookwood, I learned that everyone has a purpose and I realized that I should try my best to bring out the best in everyone.” Sponsor: Greg Glauser, Spiritual and Community Life Coordinator.
Blake J., 2nd year member. Project: Chapstick Drive - Blake organized fellow students into a 'ChapStick Drive Team'. They collected 356 tubes of ChapStick, designed cards to go with them, and donated them to Meals for the Elderly. Blake and his friends experienced what a difference personal contact means to those who benefit from Meals for the Elderly. “This project taught me how important organization is to getting things done effectively. I tried to do some last minute things and put myself and my team in a very tight situation. We eventually pushed through and I learned a valuable lesson.” Sponsor: Scott Sustek, Teacher.
Anna K., 6th year member. Project: A Christmas Surprise - Anna gathered donations from various businesses, family, and friends to give to the Ronald McDonald House at Christmas. This is a continuation of a tradition she started four years ago. “During this project, I improved my organization and planning skills. When my project was complete, it felt great to have contributed to my community.” Sponsor: Marcus Kaya, Teacher.
Riley K., 1st year member. Project: Learning to Appreciate Others by Helping Them - Riley recruited three friends and they volunteered to help the custodians at their school. They spent a day helping pick up trash and cleaning the walls and lockers. They helped the understaffed custodians and really started to appreciate what the custodians do every day. "I learned that if you think someone's doing a poor job, try it yourself. It is humbling. Even though you think you appreciate the work someone does, doing it for them, you get a whole new level of appreciation." Sponsor: Fabien Mino, Head custodian, Young Men's Leadership Academy
Hayden M., 5th year member. Project: Garden for Emmaus Church- Hayden recruited 25 scouts and adult leaders from his Boy Scout troop to help him build a garden for Emmaus Church. Together they spent more than 130 hours designing, constructing and filling raised flower beds that will be used to teach gardening to the pre-school students at the church. "We had quite a difficult time constructing these raised beds due to the slope of the terrain. But, through teamwork, we were able to overcome the challenges we faced. I hope the students will be able to enjoy this garden for years to come." Sponsor: Jennifer Richard Director, Early Childhood Education Program, Emmaus Church
Kollin F., 5th year member. Project: Tennessee Wildfires Relief -On Nov. 28, 2016 wildfires swept through Sevier County and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. At least 14,000 area residents and tourists were forced to evacuate. Kollin organized Teen Board members and set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the purchase of personal care products. They packed 125 total bags with these items. The Red Cross received the tote bags and delivered them to the families staying at the temporary shelter. Kollin continues to help families affected by the fires while serving on the "Fire Relief Committee" at Sevier County High School. "Even though the contributions made through my foundation, Project Neighbor Tree, were on a small scale, I feel leading a group of students with the same goal of reaching out to those families affected by the wildfires made a difference and had a positive impact on everyone involved." Sponsor: Jama Franklin, Counselor