Interested in this year’s inspiring batch of youth volunteers? Below is the list of 2016’s “America’s Top 10 Youth Volunteers.”
Jungin Angie Lee, 17, of Naperville, Ill., a junior at Metea Valley High School in Aurora, co-founded a nonprofit organization that has generated nearly $200,000 over the past nine years through annual fundraising events to help find a cure for her rare neuromuscular disease. When she was 15 months old, Angie was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disorder that causes debilitating and often fatal muscle weakness.
Connor Archer, 17, of Stillwater, Maine, a senior at Old Town High School, works to educate the public about autism and the challenges faced by people with autism like himself, and has raised more than $12,000 for organizations that help people with special needs. Connor was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old.
Maria Keller, 15, of Plymouth, Minn., a sophomore at Orono High School, founded a nonprofit called “Read Indeed” when she was 8 years old, and has since collected more than 1.7 million books for children in need in 48 states and 17 other countries.
James Lea, 17, of Las Vegas, Nev., a junior at Faith Lutheran Middle School and High School, helps brighten the holiday season for children who have recently lost a parent by surprising their families with an anonymous gift each day for 12 days, tied to the theme of the song “12 Days of Christmas.” In 2008, when James was 9 years old, his father died from a sudden heart attack. “
Alisha Zhao, 17, of Portland, Ore., a junior at Lincoln High School, created a club at her school to provide services to local homeless people, and then founded a nonprofit organization called “Kids First Project” to expand her efforts and focus on the needs of homeless youth.
Kayla Abramowitz, 13, of North Palm Beach, Fla., an eighth-grader at Watson B. Duncan Middle School, has collected nearly 10,000 DVDs, books and other items for 81 hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in all 50 states through her nonprofit organization, “Kayla Cares 4 Kids.” Kayla has juvenile arthritis and Crohn’s disease, and knows firsthand about hospital stays.
Clare Szalkowski, 10, of Dubuque, Iowa, a member of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois and a fifth-grader at Hoover Elementary School, started “Clare Cares” over two years ago to “build friendships and make our community a better place” by organizing projects that benefit bullied children, homeless and hungry people, and others in need of assistance. Clare was inspired to start her project after her older sister had an epileptic seizure at school and her friend made fun of her.
Grace Davis, 10, of Louisville, Ky., a fifth-grader at Greathouse Shryock Traditional Elementary School, has raised more than $140,000 over the past four years to care for babies born prematurely by distributing piggy banks to students in her community and encouraging them to fill them up.
Zachary Rice, 13, of Long Valley, N.J., an eighth-grader at Long Valley Middle School, initiated an annual 5K run/walk that has raised more than $50,000 over the past three years to provide gaming systems and other fun distractions for young patients at Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown. Zach spent a lot of time in the hospital during fourth and fifth grade due to a painful hip infection and a subsequent debilitating bone condition.
Jackson Silverman, 10, of Charleston, S.C., a fifth-grader at Advanced Studies Magnet-Haut Gap Middle School, persuaded a local food bank to let him start a youth volunteer program there in 2013 that has by now packed more than 14,000 weekend lunch bags for kids in need. He started his own nonprofit organization called “I Heart Hungry Kids” and, after a little persuasion, got the food bank to agree to a kid volunteer program.
Ya Know You Wanna!