The 2015 Hasbro Community Action Hero Awards recognized ten outstanding youth volunteers that made their mark on their local or global community; serving as proof that anyone can make a difference regardless of their age.
The 2015 Heroes are:
August Favarula | Chicago, IL
When 5 year-old August heard that his teacher was running in a Super Hero themed 5K to raise money for children's charities, he said, "Why don't we dress up like super heroes, run around the playground and raise money for sick kids." With August's idea and hard work, his kindergarten class became "heroes" to Chicago Bears cornerback and NFL Man of the Year, Charles Tillman. Under August's leadership, the school raised $5,000 for Charles' Lockers which will provide lockers filled with laptops, movies, iPads, etc. to keep children in the hospital entertained and learning during their stay. This fundraiser is now an annual event with August and his classmates serving as young leaders teaching what they have learned to each new kindergarten class.
Morgan Keely | East Greenville, PA
Morgan Keely was born deaf and endured many surgeries in her young life to be able to hear with cochlear implants. After her sixth surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, she received a sand bucket filled with goodies to make her feel better. This caring gesture made such an impact on Morgan that she asked her mother if they could do this for others. She started Morgan's Magical Ears which raises money to buy Woofi the missionary puppy and other treats to put in sand buckets and then donates them to the Philadelphia Children's Hospital several times a year. She is approaching 500 buckets donated. Morgan hopes her project will continue to grow and spread happiness to children who have suffered from illnesses and disabilities early in life. You can find Morgan sharing updates on her Morgan's Magical Ears on Facebook.
Cameron Thompson | Beaumont, CA
When Cameron was in second grade he bullied a younger student and made him cry. At that moment Cameron knew he had made the wrong choice. After he understood the hurt he had caused, he decided to start and lead an anti-bully club at his elementary school that helps others discuss positive behavior. Cameron implemented PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) into his school and has gained over 185 student members who spend their Friday recess talking about bullying, which is now nearly eliminated in the school. Cameron has been advocating that children in other schools start their own clubs and has worked to compile a starter-kit of useful resources. In addition to his work with schools and clubs, Cameron also made a video about his journey from bully to friend and advocate. His video has over 80,000 views on YouTube and is being used by Cameron to spread his message of acceptance. Find out more about Cameron's Anti-Bullying Campaign on his website, antibullycampaign.org, and follow his updates on Facebook and Twitter (@CamsAntiBully).
Maxwell Suprenant | Needham, MA
When Maxwell was five, he and his family started Catching Joy, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit which promotes acts of kindness and volunteerism beginning with young children and their families. Maxwell aims to focus on the good in this world and be a positive changemaker. He uses his crayons, creativity and care to think up hands-on community service projects that kids can do to experience the joy of giving. Maxwell averages about 5-8 events per month, aiding over 50 charities and causes and reaching thousands and thousands of kids and families. In 2014, Maxwell launched a special project for a friend battling cancer: 1000 Birthday Cards for Bennett. He surpassed his goal and surprised Bennett with over 2,000 birthday cards from all over the world! Maxwell is currently preparing to launch a world-wide Catching Joy game of "tag" which will encourage kids and adults to do acts of kindness, tag friends, and spread joy. See Maxwell talk about the impact of giving back here, and find him on Facebook and Twitter (@CatchingJoy).
Brooklyn Wright | Atlanta, GA
When Brooklyn was 7 years old, she noticed litter in her local parks and decided the way people were treating our planet had to change. She wanted to inspire her classmates and other kids to care about the earth and thought a superhero would get their attention. Brooklyn created her alter ego, Earth Saver Girl, and wrote the storybook The Adventures of Earth Saver Girl, Don't be a Litterbug. As CEO of the of the non-profit program Earth Saver Girl, which brings awareness to environmental issues, Brooklyn has turned her passion into a movement that includes a strong social media following and an interactive website, featuring litter prevention and going green programs along with other tools to engage and empower her peers. Brooklyn has performed at over 400 schools, churches, libraries and events to educate her fellow peers about littering and to encourage them to be mindful of the environment. Brooklyn shares updates with the Earth Saver Girl community on Facebook and Twitter (@earthsavergirl).
Ellie Zika | Peoria, IL
When Ellie was 9, she heard Immaculee, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, speak in her hometown and learned that some kids in Rwanda were not able to go to school like her and had to face the difficulties of extreme poverty. Ellie decided to use something she loved to do, knitting, to help families on the other side of the world and came up with the idea for KidKnits. The yarn made by Rwandan women is purchased by KidKnits and used in Ellie's knitting demonstrations and classes and sold through the KidKnits craft kits. Ellie has taught almost 200 fifth grade students at five different schools and three youth groups how to knit using the Rwandan yarn. Through purchasing yarn from her partners in Rwanda and Chile, Ellie sells craft kits to kids around the U.S. and in turn is able to provide income to women who desperately need it in third world countries. Ellie shares updates on the KidKnits mission on Facebook and Twitter (@kidknits).
Joshua Williams | Miami, FL
Joshua discovered his love for philanthropy at the age of 5 when he saw an infomercial about children who were hungry and homeless. A few weeks later he saw a man on the side of the road with a sign that read "hungry, need food, lost my job". He asked his mom if he could give the man the twenty dollar bill he had just received from his grandmother. After helping out this man, Joshua decided this was his purpose and he needed to do something about hunger and poverty. Joshua founded the Joshua's Heart Foundation (JHF) to 'stomp out world hunger' by collecting donations and creating awareness about world hunger through speaking engagements. His dedication to inspiring others and fighting world hunger has resulted in over 895,000 pounds of food being given to people in South Florida, Jamaica and Africa through his foundation. He has also raised over $400,000, collected over 40,000 pounds of toys, books, clothes and toiletries, and inspired more than 2,200 youth volunteers to start their own projects/clubs to support the fight against hunger. Joshua shares updates on JHF on Facebook and Twitter (@joshuasheart).
Alexandra Jackman | Westfield, NJ
Alexandra's service journey started with a random act of kindness. When she was 9 years old and attending summer camp, she noticed a wheel chair bound child isolated and alone at lunchtime and decided to sit with her. Alex realized that a lot of people don't take the opportunity to get to know who someone with a special need is on the inside. This inspired Alex, and she began to work as a mentor to children with Autism. As a result, Alex learned that people's lack of interaction with these special needs kids was mainly due to a lack of understanding of autism. This realization motivated her to try to change this by creating a 14-minute video entitled, "A Teen's Guide to Understanding and Communicating with People with Autism." The video has been viewed by more than 37,000 people to date and has also been played at 14 film festivals worldwide. Look for updates on Alexandra's mission on Facebook.
At the age of 15 Samantha underwent spinal fusion surgery to correct her severe scoliosis, and after lying in the ICU for days, "Sami" realized that her next step would be to give back to others who were facing this medical condition. Sami founded SHIFT Scoliosis, a non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate the challenges associated with complex spinal diseases through education and connections to medical care. Since SHIFT's founding, Sami has co-led SHIFT's medical team to establish the first scoliosis screening clinic in the poorest community in America, The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, and screened 1,500 of the children living on this reservation. The program that Sami is most passionate about is Seeing the Curve, which establishes screening clinics in impoverished communities by transferring knowledge to local adults and teaching them how to run clinics. Samantha shares updates on SHIFT Scoliosis on Facebook and Twitter (@SHIFTScoliosis).
Nadya Okamoto | Portland, OR
At age 16, through personal experience and conversations with homeless women, Nadya Okamoto discovered that there was a huge lack of access to feminine hygiene products. Nadya found a passion and determination to address these needs and founded Camions of Care, a non-profit organization that strives to address the natural needs of homeless women primarily through the distribution of feminine hygiene product care packages. She mobilized some of her most determined, compassionate, and collaborative classmates to help her grow the organization. It currently serves over 550 women in Portland, Salt Lake City, and Guatemala with small care packages that have enough products to last one menstrual cycle. Nadya manages over 60 volunteers, works with 10 partner non-profits and has organized 4 events to support Camions of Care. Nadya share updates on Camions of Care on Facebook and Twitter (@camionsofcare).