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Brooke Mackenzie Hinson, Grade 7, from Mount Olive, NC wins First Place Gee Whiz Kids™ Award
Washington, DC - Brooke Mackenzie Hinson, Mount Olive, NC was awarded First Place for the 2015 Gee Whiz Kids™ Award given by the Heart of America Foundation®.

The Heart of America Foundation® announces Mackenzie H., from Mt. Olive, NC, as the first place winner of the 2015 Gee Whiz Kids® Service Award. The Gee Whiz Kids® Award is designed to honor exemplary children age 12 and under, who represent the best of their schools and communities via service activities

Mackenzie, after volunteering at several food banks, decided at age 10 to open her own food bank to better serve her local community. She persuaded a nearby church to allow her to use their facility; met with an accountant and applied for her 501c nonprofit status; invited local business leaders to join her board of directors; and scheduled fundraisers to raise money to purchase food.

In April 2015, Mackenzie’s “Make A Difference Food Pantry” became a reality with the mission of “stopping hunger one meal; one family at a time while providing nutritious food to those in need with compassion and love.” By July Mackenzie had served over 600 people and outgrown the church space, relocating to a local strip mall.

She now fundraises to pay her rent and utilities as well as purchase food to give away.  Recently, a local car dealership donated a van for Make A Difference Food Pantry to transport food. Make A Difference Food Pantry is an official partnering agency with the Central North Carolina Food Bank. Thanks to Mackenzie’s efforts over 3,000 people have been served. Mackenzie is also the sponsor of the “Back Pack BUDDY” children’s weekend meal program at three local schools, supplying weekend meals for 56 children. This amazing seventh grader is living her dream of serving those in most need.

Adelaide Epler, Grade K, from Ketchikan, AK wins Second Place Gee Whiz Kids™ Award
Washington, DC - Adelaide Epler from Ketchikan, AK was awarded Second Place for the 2015 Gee Whiz Kids™ Award given by the Heart of America Foundation®.

AdelaideThe Heart of America Foundation® announces Adelaide E., as the second place winner of the 2015 Gee Whiz Kids® Service Award. The Gee Whiz Kids® Award is designed to honor exemplary children age 12 and under, who represent the best of their schools and communities via service activities.

Adelaide and her father spent the month of July 2015 shoeless to raise awareness and funds for ‘The Shoe That Grows’, a nonprofit that produces adjustable shoes designed for growing children in developing countries. To encourage others to participate, Adelaide laid out “Addie’s Barefoot Challenge”, which encouraged other kids and adults to experience the woes of going shoeless for 24 hours and then donate to the cause. The local community raised over $3,500 in total.

Adelaide has also championed a nearby playground that had fallen into disrepair. She wrote letters to public officials, published a letter-to-the-editor, and even spoke at a borough Assembly meeting. Adelaide maintained that adults had forgotten about parks and playgrounds and someone needed to remind them that kids need a safe place to have fun. Her YouTube video “An Important Message about the Monroe Street Tot Lot” reached enough people that the local news paper ran a story and within a few weeks, much of the equipment had been replaced. There is now a plan for a full renovation in the future.  On a more personal level, Adelaide looks to demonstrate practical compassion in the small, everyday things such as volunteering alongside her parents with an organization that packs and delivers groceries to under-resourced families.

Wesley S., Grade 4, from Hanover, NH wins Third Place Gee Whiz Kids™ Award
Washington, DC - Wesley S. from Hanover, NH was awarded Third Place for the 2015 Gee Whiz Kids™ Award given by the Heart of America Foundation®.

WesleyThe Heart of America Foundation® announces Wesley from Hanover as third place winner of the 2015 Gee Whiz Kids® Service Award. The Gee Whiz Kids® Service Award is designed to honor exemplary children age 12 and under, who represent the best of their schools and communities, the true heart of America.

Nominated by a Food Shelf Coordinator at the Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction, Vermont, Wesley has been volunteering alongside his family since age three when they began making peppermint ice cream to help soothe cancer patients’ stomachs. At age 10, Wesley took the lead on the project and transitioned to making ice cream for Upper Valley Haven after a visit. During that initial visit he noticed that there was no ice cream in the freezers – a treat that he took for granted was not readily available for those in need. On a weekly basis over the summer and on school holidays, Wesley makes ice cream, loads it into a cooler box and delivers it to the food shelf.  Over 100 pints of the treats help feed some 200 people at The Haven each summer.

Wesley has volunteered hundreds of hours to participate in or lead service activities ranging from picking up trash to teaching child safety to kindergarteners. He has been involved in numerous fundraisers (including selling lemonade to raise $2,000 for the American Wildlife Foundation) as well as environmental and community outreach projects. However, his favorite activity is making homemade ice cream, because he knows that he is providing a little joy and comfort to children and adults.

The Gee Whiz Kids™ Award is given to children age 12 and under
who exemplify the value of service in America.

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More information about the Gee Whiz Kids™ Award or the Heart of America Foundation® can be found on the Foundation’s website at www.heartofamerica.org or by contacting Colleen Noland at colleen@heartofamerica.org.

Founded in 1997, the Heart of America’s focus is to provide children in need everywhere with the tools to read, succeed and make a difference. A national nonprofit headquartered in Washington, DC, its programs uniquely combine volunteerism and literacy. Since 1997, it has provided children living in poverty with over 1.8 million books and has helped volunteers serve more than 1,020,000 hours giving back to the community.

CONGRATULATIONS! 2015 Gee Whiz Kids™ Award

Heroes of the Heart™ Gee Whiz Kids™ Award [download application]

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