For over 30 years, 11Alive and The Junior League of Atlanta have joined together to honor five outstanding high school students with the Kids Who Care Award. The award recognizes the unselfish contributions of young people who are dedicated to making our community a better place.
11Alive is excited to announce the 2016 Kids Who Care Award winners!
Samantha Daly is a junior at Dunwoody High School who created a library at Covenant House Georgia, a shelter for young adults ages 18-21 in downtown Atlanta. To increase the reading level of the young adults at Covenant House, Samantha developed a lending library to give residents access to some 2,000 books. She also provided them with a newly renovated educational space where they hold literacy and life skills programs.
Her lending library gained her recognition as a “20 Under 20” leader by the Dunwoody Reporter Newspapers. She also completed her Gold Scout Gold Award by addressing the need for literacy programs at Covenant House. She also serves as a captain for the Relay for Life cancer fundraising event, grade representative for the Dunwoody High School Student Government Association and as treasurer of the National Beta Club. She also volunteers for the Empty Stocking Fund, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Special Olympics.
Haley Hooper is a ninth grader at The Lovett School who has been volunteering most of her life. At the age of nine, she founded the Kingswood Fun Run to support the Atlanta Humane Society. The nine-year-old planned the race, created a flyer and recruited volunteers to work the race course. In 2015 she hosted the 6th Annual Kingswood Fun Run, raising over $15,000 for the Atlanta Humane Society. The money raised helped rescue over 70 dogs from a puppy mill, making a difference in the lives of animals. Since her inaugural run, Haley has raised over $25,000 for the Atlanta Humane Society. She was also given the “20 Under 20 Community Service Honor” by the Atlanta Intown Paper.
In addition to her work on behalf of animals, Haley is an accomplished runner. She was runner- up in the 2015 2A Cross Country State Championships, 2015 2A Regional Cross Country champion and has the 2015 Atlanta Track Club All Metro High School Cross Country Team Designation.
Elvis Kahoro is a senior at Kennesaw Mountain High School, who came to the United States with his parents from Kenya when he was three years old. Before entering the United States he contracted malaria, and survived! Hundreds of thousands of lives are lost to malaria each year, yet Elvis is a survivor! His passion is Shop with a Mustang (SWAM), a community service event that allows low-income students in the Kennesaw community to have a Christmas that they normally would not experience. In addition to his community service, Elvis was one of 40 persons accepted to the Chick-Fil-A & Addo Institute. He is a member of the National Beta Club, National Honor Society, the National Technical Honor Society and the Varsity Math Club.
This survivor is also a student athlete who has received the Questbridge College Prep Scholarship, AP Scholar distinction and the Gas South Award. He is a member of the 800 Club, an honor for persons with a perfect score on SAT/ACT Subject Test and had perfect attendance from the 9th to 11th grade. He was the Duke Talent Identification Program recipient and has won the Outstanding Character Award.
Erin Huff is a senior at St. Pius X Catholic High School who suffered with an eating disorder and depression in elementary school. Her struggles convinced her to go out and help other girls. She started a “Teen Girls’ Life Group” for middle school girls at Decatur United Methodist Church for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Her goal was to educate and empower girls to have faith in themselves to help them through middle school and beyond. Erin’s group initially began as a six week program. It was so popular that that it continued throughout the school year. Erin is now working with older girls so that the group will continue when she leaves for college in the fall.
In addition to mentoring pre-teens, Erin is part of the Dunwoody United Methodist Church youth group. She was recently a member of a mission team that went to Bahamas Methodist Habitat in Eleuthera, Bahamas. She also volunteers as a confirmation teacher. Erin is a member of the St. Pius Yearbook staff and earned a varsity letter in cross country.
Tessa Szalkowski is a senior at Grady High School whose family welcomed a Rwandan exchange student into their home. The student informed Tessa that her capital, Kigali, had just built their first-ever library, and that they desperately needed books. Tessa birthed the plan to ship children’s books to Rwanda to help stock their new public library. After collecting 10,000 books, she is the heart, soul and face of the Kigali Book Project. In three years she has put a different face to a country that has been known primarily for the images of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
As a member of the Grady 21st Century Leaders Youth Center board, she has encouraged students to seek support for their community service passions. Through Tessa’s efforts over 200 students have been involved in 15 service projects annually for the past three years, allowing them to complete over 2000 hours of community service for Atlanta. She was named one of Atlanta’s “20 Under 20” young leaders and co-captain of the Grady High School Chorus. She also sang with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s All-City Chorus.