Two local second graders have won $100 to put their good ideas to work through the Littlest Volunteers Contest, sponsored by the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills (JLOSH). Carlos Osco, from Washington Elementary School in West Orange, and Lila Price, from Seth Boyden Elementary School, each won a grand prize of $100 for their inspiring ideas to help others in their community. The youngsters were chosen from 30 participants who entered the contest.
The contest is part of a larger program organized by JLOSH that introduces elementary school age children to the concept of volunteerism through readings of the award-winning book, The Littlest Volunteer, written by League member Danielle Speckhart and published by JLOSH, with a CD read by actress/singer Raven-Symone. In The Littlest Volunteers, colorful characters Annie the Ant and her friends discover what it means to be a volunteer.
Through the contest, JLOSH was looking for the next Littlest Volunteer to come up with an idea on how he or she would use $100 to help others. Carlos wanted to help a family in his neighborhood who lost everything when their home was destroyed by a fire. Carlos’s idea was to use the winnings – and a little help from his friends – to buy the family the many things they would now need. Lila wanted to organize a "fun-run" to benefit needy people in Irvington. Lila’s idea was to use some of the winnings to buy water for people running the race. By charging runners a $5 fee to run in the race and combining it with the remaining winnings, Lila predicted that she could donate the money to people in need in Irvington, as well as help the runners be healthy and lose weight.
In addition to the grand prizes, 3 contestants earned an honorable mention and won $50 to implement their ideas. Jayla Vyent of Washington Elementary School in West Orange won $50 for her idea of raising money through a lemonade stand to buy flowers to cheer up sick people in the hospital. Jenna Hayes of Seth Boyden Elementary School $50 for her idea of creating fun gift bags with crafts and small games to give to children in the hospital. Marilyn Gates of the South Mountain Elementary School in Millburn won $50 for her idea of raising money and awareness through a lemonade stand for children with cancer in Millburn.
In another exciting development, the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey have expressed an interest in the Littlest Volunteers program and have ordered copies of the book as a way to help introduce the concept of volunteerism to their members.
JLOSH President Katherine Eklund said, “We were very impressed with the many ideas submitted by our local second graders. It was not an easy decision, but we think the winners’ ideas truly embody the values and rewards of volunteering. We are also thrilled that the Girl Scouts want to use our book and hope to work with them in the future in order to promote volunteerism among youth. Studies show that exposure to volunteering at an early age can teach important life skills, improve confidence, promote healthy lifestyle choices, and can lead to a life-long commitment to volunteering.”
To learn more about Annie the Ant or for additional information, please visit www.thelittlestvolunteers.org. The Littlest Volunteers book is available through the JLOSH office and at Amazon.com.