Julian: Okay, you have heard it before: it is better to give than to receive. Well, one group of young people is doing just that. And they are discovering that doing for others really can pay off.
Allyson Ahlstrom: My project is called Threads for Teens.
Julian: And starting today, 17-year-old Allyson Ahlstrom of Santa Rosa, California is taking her project on the road.
Allyson: Threads for Teens is going on a 48-state tour, and a thousand girls are going to receive a brand new outfit in a semi-truck that we’re making into a mobile boutique.
Julian: Allyson is one of ten middle level and high school students from across the country who were named America’s Top Youth Volunteers of 2013. When she was just 14 years old, Allyson started her organization. Threads for Teens lets young girls in foster care group homes pick out two brand new outfits for free.
Allyson: Since the boutique opened in August of 2010, over 260 girls have received two head-to-toe outfits. An additional 100 have received backpacks full of school supplies. And another 100 have received prom dresses.
Julian: Twelve-year-old Joshua Williams was also honored with a Prudential Spirit of Community Award for starting a volunteer group that fills backpacks with food.
Joshua Williams: What motivated me to do this was seeing kids and adults on the street that are hungry. So, I wanted to do something about it, so I decided to go to my mom to ask her to help me do something. She didn’t believe me that I wanted to do this at first and then she saw that I really wanted to do this, so she helped me out.
Julian: So far, Joshua’s Heart Foundation has given away 475,000 pounds of food to families in need throughout South Florida.
Some of the young volunteers honored were recognized for their fundraising abilities, like 13-year-old Teagan Stedman.
Teagan Stedman: My friend Alex who was diagnosed with cancer. And I felt like I needed to do something to help. He was isolated. And we both were interested in music, so I decided I might start an event to raise money for pediatric cancer research.
Julian: So far, Teagan’s music events have helped raise more than $70,000 to fund ways to battle cancer in young people.
Each of this year’s ten winners takes home a gold medallion, and their schools receive a crystal trophy. There is also $5,000 a piece in personal awards, and another $5,000 grant for the charity of their choice.
Allyson says her cash prize is helping to pay for her mobile boutique. And Joshua says the money will help his group feed as many as ten kids each week for another year.
Joshua: It’s going to bring a lot of awareness and let people know that they could help, they can help and they should help.
Julian: Julian Dujarric, Channel One News.