The Hasbro Community Action Hero Award recognizes six outstanding youth volunteers who are making their mark on the local or global community and are proof that anyone can make a difference regardless of their age.
- The 2013 Heroes are:
Yash Gupta | Irvine, California
Yash, a junior at Northwood High School, began his freshman year with a less-than-great start: his glasses broke and he was unable to navigate the building or follow along with his teacher's lessons. During the week-long period that Yash could not see, he learned that 13 million children worldwide need corrective lenses but 90% cannot afford them. Yash realized that this gap prevents people from learning and perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Armed with this information, he created Sight Learning, a non-profit organization with a single goal: to provide eyeglasses to students in need of them. Yash has since collected $350,000 worth of eye glasses and impacted 15,000 lives through eye exams primarily in Mexico, Honduras, and Haiti.
On his first trip to Tijuana, Mexico, Yash gave glasses to a young boy and was overwhelmed as he watched the pure joy, emotion, and excitement on the young boy's face as he viewed the world around him with clarity for the very first time. Experiences like this have motivated Yash to expand his work with Sight Learning. He currently works with young people in nine states who have become leaders in their own communities by implementing their own Sight Learning collections and programs. Yash's next goal is to develop a strong advocacy campaign around the issue through traditional and social media as well as through a large-scale glasses donation benefit with the help of student ambassadors in all 50 states. As he embarks on this new goal, Yash is bolstered by his personal motto: "Nothing is impossible. The word itself is I'm possible."
Carter Jenkins | San Juan Capistrano, California
Carter Jenkins, a sophomore at JSerra Catholic High School, first became involved in service at four years old when he and his mother would collect and deliver bread to those in need. His dedication to service in his community grew as he got older and after watching a video about the world water crisis, he knew he needed to act. That's when Carter created Students for Safe Water, a non-profit with the goal of bringing latrines to families in Nicaragua. Through his dedication and passion, Carter raised $54,000 which allowed him to install 22 latrines in a village of over 400 people. He also helped bring clean water to over 300 people in Saba Honduras through the installation of new wells.
After the projects were complete, the Nicaraguan village held a celebration at which an 11-year old boy named Danillo gave Carter a small painted angel. Carter tried to refuse, realizing how dear this object must have been, but Danillo insisted, explaining that he wanted Carter to remember the village-- as if forgetting this experience was ever a possibility. After his return home, inspired to further his work, Carter continued to raise awareness and funds for Nicaraguan villagers. He addressed thousands of kids in local schools and spoke at notable events including TEDxRedmond. This summer, Carter will return to the Nicaraguan village to reunite with Danillo and to complete a new project that will bring clean, potable water to the villagers.
Stephanie Jennis | Montville, New Jersey
Stephanie, a junior at Montville Township High School, is the founder of Pathways for Exceptional Children, a non-profit organization that has trained 15,000 youth mentors in the state of New Jersey to work with children with disabilities. When she was just seven, Stephanie realized that her brother, who was disabled, was not invited to play with friends or attend birthday parties in the way that she was. He was lonely. She decided that this was unacceptable, and began developing arts and sports programs that encouraged interaction between students of all abilities.
Today, nearly a decade later, Pathways is in 54 different communities across the state and Stephanie has helped to raise over $550,000 to support these programs. But she hasn't stop there. Realizing that there is a much larger problem-- young people with disabilities become adults with a 70% unemployment rate, Stephanie expanded her organization in 2008 to include programs that taught practical skills to allow participants to find success within the workforce. Now in its fifth year, the initiative entitled Project Win-Win includes employment training programs in food service, music, entertainment, video production, photography, graphic arts, and more. In 2012, Stephanie received a grant that allowed Project Win-Win to move into a new 2,700 square foot facility that is very aptly called, The Creative Studio for Genius. Stephanie's vision is to create a future for children of all abilities where they are included, valued, and empowered to redefine the world.
Zachary Morgan | Watson, Louisiana
Zachary, a second grader at North Live Oak Elementary, began volunteering with the Special Olympics with his parents, one of the few organizations he could find that welcomed a volunteer his age. After seeing some commercials on television for Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital, Zachary had the idea to give hats to children in hospitals. With the help of his mother, he created Zach's Lidz for Kidz which aims to "put a hat on your head, a smile on your face and hope in your heart."
To date, Zachary has collected over 1,000 new, kid-sized baseball caps which he donates to children receiving chemo treatments through a partnership with his local hospital. Zach's love for service and baseball caps is strong. His personal collection of 40 caps includes the New York Yankees, although he professes not to have a favorite team. He loves delivering caps to young patients, especially those facing hair loss, and is always thrilled to receive thank you notes with photos of beaming children wearing their new hats. His next goal is to create a partnership that will allow Zach's Lidz for Kidz to give away vouchers for wigs in addition to new baseball caps. In Zach's words: "Best feeling ever!"
Grace Anne Remey | Tuscan, Arizona
Grace Anne, a third grader at Manzanita Elementary School, has always been a "military kid." Her family has moved across the country while her father was deployed seven times. Grace Anne is proud of her father's service and wanted to find a way to make a difference, too. Grace Anne knew that deployment caused stress and anxiety in families and so she decided to share some of her ideas to help other young people cope. She worked with her mother and a teacher to write and illustrate Lion's Pride: A Tail of Deployment, a story told from the perspective of a young lion cub whose father has to deploy far away. As Jim Greenwald of the Military Writers Society of America writes, "Deployment is the price children are forced to pay without having the right to say anything about it. Imagine how that seems to a young mind. Grace Anne, at the ripe old age of eight, has created a path to deal with those issues. Join her on her trip through this clever story line written from the perspective of a Lion's pride." In March, Grace Anne published her second book, Lion's Pride On the Move, which explores what happens when the lion family has to relocate to the other side of the world.
In order to share her books, Grace Anne helped with community programs and bookmaking, appeared on local radio and television shows and partnered with Operation Military Kids, UA College of Agriculture & Life Sciences and the Military Child Education Coalition. Her books have been presented at the Southern Arizona Association for Play Therapy Conference and have provided hope and inspiration for many readers.
Katie Stagliano | Summerville, South Carolina
Katie, an eighth grader at Pinewood Preparatory School, began serving her community when she was nine years old. In third grade, she received a cabbage seedling from a program called Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program, and what began as a tiny sprout, eventually grew into a massive 40-pound cabbage. Too large for her own family to eat, Katie decided to help others by donating the colossal cruciferous vegetable to a local soup kitchen where it fed 275 people. As she looked at the families in line that day, Katie realized that if one cabbage could feed several hundred people, a garden could feed even more.
That's when she started Katie's Krops, a non-profit organization that brings kids together to produce locally grown, healthy food for an area soup kitchen. The organization has since donated over 7,500 pounds of food and served over 3,000 meals to families in need. To date, Katie has empowered more than 1,000 youth to give back through sustainable agriculture and there are now more than 60 Katie's Krops gardens across the United States. This summer Katie's Krops will host the very first Katie's Krops Camp to help mobilize youth to improve their growing skills and feed even more people in need. In 2012 Katie became the youngest recipient ever of the Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Civil Society.