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 2014 Heroes are:
Ethan Cruikshank | Mechanicsville, Virginia
Ethan, a sophomore at Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies, was upset when he learned that budget cuts at his local school would force the closure of its strings music education program. Ethan and many of his friends had benefited from the school music program and he wanted to ensure that future generations of students would have the opportunity to learn to play music, even without district funding.
In response, Ethan founded Music to My Ears, which is an all-volunteer organization led by middle and high school students who provide weekly music lessons to elementary school-aged children. Through the program, younger children learn how to play an instrument and develop life skills. At the same time, older children learn leadership and mentutoring skills, and are able to share their passion for music. Since its founding in 2009, Music to My Ears has served 87 children with 24 different instructors. The program has spread to three states, providing over 1,450 hours of service. Ethan's next goal for the program is to provide musical instruments through donations or rentals for children who cannot otherwise afford them.
Gabriele Eggerling | Huntington Beach, California
Gabriele, a fifth grader at Montessori Child Development Center, started volunteering with a local literacy program three years ago as the program's youngest reader. Gabriele visited schools all over southern California, reading and storytelling to get children excited about literacy. Gabriele, an early reader, soon realized that by using funny voices he could get other young people to love reading as much as he did. At eight years old he founded Mission:HERO (Helping Others Read Outloud). Since its founding, Mission:HERO has donated over 1,000 books to low income kids in southern California. In addition, the organization has donated over 500 books to fill libraries outside of the United States. Gabriele continues to read to an average of 150 elementary-aged students each month at events at schools, book fairs, and libraries.
His TEDx talk about literacy and the super hero power within us featured one of Gabriele's favorite stories about a girl who slept in her new rain boots the night she received them, while hugging a newly acquired book. Her passion is an example of the power of books to transform readers. Gabriele is excited about the release of the upcoming documentary "Heroes Don't Wear Capes" which will showcase his literacy work. He likes to tell people that we are all heroes and our superpowers are our brains and our hearts. Gabriele reminds others that everyone has something special to share that can make a difference to others.
Neha, a senior at Pennsbury High School, first became involved in service at the age of nine when she went to India to visit her grandparents. Her grandfather required all of the grandchildren to complete community service before celebrating their birthdays, so Neha started volunteering with a local orphanage in northern India while she was visiting. Neha listened to stories of the children and heard them cry, and knew that she needed to take action. As a result, she was inspired to start Empower Orphans, an organization designed to help young people at the orphanage. Since staring her organization, Neha has raised over one million dollars and impacted the lives of more than 25,000 orphaned and disadvantaged children.
Through Empower Orphans, Neha has convened an eye and dental camp that benefited over 360 under privileged children in India, installed a well and a water purification system to provide clean drinking water to thousands of children and donated food, clothes, books, shoes and bicycles to thousands of young people. In addition, she has established five libraries with 15,500 books at an orphanage and four low income schools in India and the United States. She has started a science center at an Indian school for disadvantaged children and founded a sewing center with 60 sewing machines at a school in India. This center enables young women and girls to learn a skill, facilitating their ability to earn a living and stand on their own feet. Her goal is to ultimately impact 100,000 young people.
My'Kah Knowlin, a seventh grader at Lux Middle School, started Boxes of Love when she was nine years old after hearing about the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri in 2011. My'Kah decided to help kids impacted by the storm who had lost everything by collecting important items for the disaster victims. She worked with local business and community members and eventually packed all of the donated items into 300 boxes which she brought to Joplin. By providing toys, snacks and other tangible items to kids, Boxes of Love hopes to remind children impacted by disasters that they are not alone.
The organization helps children understand that no matter how big a loss they have suffered, there are caring people nearby. She has since hosted a Kool-Aid party for youth at the Joplin Boys & Girls club and spent time at Children's Haven, a home for children in the foster care system. Boxes of Love also sends care packages filled with socks, gloves and puzzles to the marines in Afghanistan and has raised funds to support victims in Newtown, CT after the shooting in December 2012. In total, My'Kah has raised over $71,000 to grow this initiative. In 2013 she served as a generationOn Joy Ambassador and was selected as a generationOn Excellence in Service and Leadership Awardee. My'Kay encourages everyone to live by Gandhi's words and "be the change you wish to see in the world."
Kellon Oldenettel, a pre-kindergartner at Salem Lutheran School, first became involved in service at the age of three when he and his family walked through their neighborhood and local parks to pick up litter. Kellon was inspired to get involved in his current project after a conversation with his mother during the holidays while he was making his Christmas list. As they discussed all the things he wanted and how thankful he should be for everything that he already had, Kellon asked his mom, "...If kids do not have toys, a house, and food, then do they not have socks?" His query led him to his sock collection project for children and adults in the community. Since starting his project, Kellon has collected 1,256 pairs of new socks for New Directions Warming and Cooling Shelter, the Salvation Army, local elementary schools and his local Veterans-To-Work program. His school and his community have been very supportive of his efforts which made it easy for Kellon to collect the socks. Kellon says, "When you are nice, other people might be nice back, and then maybe they will do something nice for other people."
Remington, a seventh grader at Riverwatch Middle School, founded CHANGE 4 GEORGIA (C4G) in the fifth grade, shortly after his family moved from Illinois to Georgia. C4G provides participating students with opportunities to thank soldiers and veterans for their service, dedication and sacrifice in protecting our freedom and keeping our country secure. The organization began by collecting items from soldiers' wish lists of items that are not readily available or provided, but that bring comfort during long deployments. The program also benefits veterans and their families by providing food, clothing and diapers to those who need a hand up. C4G is primarily run by 34 seventh grade students who have raised over $80,000 to support veterans and their families. Among its many accomplishments, the organization has collected 2,836 boxes of oatmeal and hundreds of pounds of condiments. Remington has also raised over $5,000 to support veterans returning to school after duty and collected thousands of school supplies for children of military families.