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Jessica Carscadden, 10 years old - Grade 5, from San Diego, CA wins First Place Gee Whiz Kids™ Award
Washington, DC - Jessica Carscadden from San Diego, CA was awarded First Place for the 2013 Gee Whiz Kids™ Award given by the Heart of America Foundation®. She will receive a certificate, letter, and $250.

JessicaCarscaddenGeeWhizKids1stPlaceWhile cleaning her room, Jessica decided to donate her stuffed animals to a local fire department to keep in their trucks for children they meet on calls. This small personal donation inspired Jessica to start We Care Bears, a stuffed animal drive for emergency services in her area.

We Care Bears has placed bags of stuffed animals in over 400 local emergency response vehicles for scared or injured children. Jessica continues to seek out opportunities to expand her efforts. While in Nevada for a school cheerleading competition, Jessica took time to donate hundreds of bears to local fire stations as well as the Ronald McDonald House of Las Vegas.

Jessica is an inspiration to her peers, encouraging students to serve their community and providing opportunity for them to get involved with her project. Recently, We Care Bears held a large volunteer event for local youth that created over 500 bags of bears, that is enough bears for every single police car in San Diego.

To learn more about Jessica’s service activities visit
July/August issue of America Girl Magazine



Hannah and Alexander Laman 10 years old - Grade 5, from Loveland, OH win Second Place Gee Whiz Kids™ Award
Washington, DC - Hannah and Alexander Laman from Loveland, OH were awarded Second Place for the 2013 Gee Whiz Kids™ Award given by the Heart of America Foundation®. They will receive a certificate, letter, and $150.

HannaAlexanderGeeWhizKids2ndPlaceHannah and Alexander founded Adopt a Book in 2011, a non-profit that collects and distributes new and gently used books for children in need. To date their organization has collected over 21,000 books and distributed them to 29 local organizations that work with at-risk youth. Hannah and Alexander have inspired hundreds of volunteers to partner with their organization including many of their peers.

Passionate about reading and the availability of resources, Hannah and Alexander petitioned the city to place a Little Free Library along a historic bike trail, encouraging people to share and recycle reading materials. This library has been a huge success with its take-a-book, leave-a-book approach.

Read more about Hannah and Alexander at:



Connelly Cowan, 9 years old, from Mount Pleasant, TX wins Third Place Gee Whiz Kids™ Award
Washington, DC - Connelly Cowan from Mount Pleasant, TX was awarded Third Place for the 2013 Gee Whiz Kids™ Award given by the Heart of America Foundation®. She will receive a certificate, letter, and $100.

ConnellyCowanGeeWhizKids3rdPlaceIn 2012, Connelly learned about struggling schools in Guatemala from fellow church members who had recently returned from a mission trip She felt inspired to help and began collecting school supplies. This launched into Connelly's Classroom project. Connelly inspired her classmates and members of her community to volunteer their time and resources. To date, Connelly has collected thousands of school supplies and is currently collecting donations to purchase desks.

Read more about Connelly at:

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! 2013 Gee Whiz Kids™ Award

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

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AWARD WINNERS:    2016  • 2015  •  2014  •  2013  •  2012  •  2011  •  2010  •  2009

The sole member of The Ocho Project, LLC is Stepp'n Up Shoes for Kids, Inc., a Florida not for profit corporation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.