Linwood area youth’s volunteer efforts earn statewide honors
Lauren Hoge didn't dream that a 4-H leadership project she completed last year would attract statewide attention.
But recently, the 14-year-old rural Linwood youth was notified she and a Topeka youth have been named the top two youth volunteers in Kansas by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
The honor comes with $1,000 and an expenses-paid trip in May to Washington, D.C., where Lauren will be honored and learn whether she has been selected a national winner. The 10 national honorees will receive an additional $5,000, as well as $5,000 grants for non-profit, charitable organizations of their choice.
Lauren, an eighth-grader who is schooled at home, earned the statewide honor by collecting donations of new and gently used books and distributing them to Same Homes, an area shelter for abused women and children.
"I love to read and I like books, so I decided I would do a leadership project for the Safe Homes," she said.
Lauren, a member of Wranglers 4-H group, distributed fliers in the area about her project. And she called the Scholastic Book Company, where officials agreed to let her visit their warehouse and pick out children's books for her campaign.
"They said, come on in and take however many you want," Lauren said. "They just thought it was awesome. I tried to collect as many books as I could for the different Safe Homes they have."
Ultimately, Lauren delivered 375 books, plus computer reading software, to Safe Homes officials.
"I thought it really helped out the Safe Home with what they needed, and I would do it again in a heartbeat," she said.
In fact, this year she plans to collect more books and make a bookshelf to store them at a Safe Home.
Lauren, the daughter of Omalee and Jeff Hoge, is excited about winning the award and her upcoming trip to Washington, D.C.
"I'm just really blown away," she said. ''... It will also be my first time flying."