Kernels of Kindness™
Celebrating those who bring joy, happiness and kindness to their communities.

Thank you to everyone who nominated an individual or organization for Kernels of Kindness! We received 6,620 nominations, and it’s inspiring to see all the good popping up nationwide. After careful review, 100 winners were selected based on their unique and significant contributions to their communities.

Each winner will receive a JOLLY TIME prize pack and $1,000 to help continue the work they’re doing. Once a week for 10 weeks, 10 new grant recipients will be profiled here until all 100 are revealed.

Congratulations, winners and nominees! It’s an honor to celebrate your continued accomplishments.

Kernels of Kindness Winners

Kim Anderson
Kim Anderson

Minnesota woman creates charity to help sick children.

The mission of Blair's Tree of Hope is to help the families of children who have been hospitalized with a life threatening illness due to pediatric Cancer, pediatric bone marrow transplant or a pediatric blood disorder.

Blair's Tree of Hope strives to provide families with day to day necessities so that they can concentrate on being with their sick child. We provide support such as gas cards, Target or Wal-Mart gift cards, healthy meals, special house cleaning (when their child comes home after a transplant) and family photographs.
 

Cindy Brodie
Cindy Brodie

Partners for Patriots provides service dogs to help these disabled Veterans with life task. 

Our Veterans have served and sacrificed for us, some giving the ultimate sacrifice and others coming home disabled.  These dogs help the Veteran to gain confidence and independence. The dogs help with opening doors, with laundry, support for balance issues and stave off anxiety for those affected with PTSD plus much more. Partners for Patriots obtains dogs from shelters and rescue groups whenever possible, thus in a way, giving a second chance to both the Veteran and the dog.

Christy Mannering
Christy Mannering

Christy is the mother of Braeden Quinn.

She has been guiding him through his dream to help homeless & low income people. He started a project when he was 9 yrs old called 3B's (Brae's Brown Bags). He wanted to give items (bottled water, healthy snacks, warm socks & gloves) to people in need. He has expanded the items to also include children's books & more. He goes to many shelters and fund raisers here in Delaware. Braedens mom & family members have been very supportive but he is the one does most of the work. He is a incredible child.

Megan McDowell
Megan McDowell

Heartworks is a 501 (c3) "Acts of Kindness" group in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

Heartworks was created by Megan McDowell in response to the hundreds of "acts of kindness" shown to her sister by strangers in the weeks following the loss of her brother-in-law on September 11th, 2001. Our Heartworks volunteers are dedicated to the mission of replicating the magnitude of kindness and generosity that engulfed our N.J. community that year. We continue to reach out to families in need of hope and kindness due to illness, death, and tragedy. Examples include financial donations to families overwhelmed with expenses, delivery of meals or groceries, parties for children returning from the hospital, gift cards for entertainment, delivering gifts to sick children, creating philanthropic efforts for our local teens, providing monthly "Thank You" notes and treats to our local Veterans. This giving, in turn, creates opportunities for our volunteers to lead grateful and purposeful lives through the power of Kindness while imparting joy and happiness to others.

Lou Monteleone
Lou Monteleone

Lou Monteleone created the Santa Express from a recurring dream he had almost 10 years ago.

From this dream he has been able to spread Christmas spirit to small country towns all over the Catskill mountains of New York state. The Santa Express is a 50 foot long lighted and musical Christmas scene complete with all your favorite characters from the North Pole. Every Christmas season he travels with his volunteers hundreds of miles at night in the frigid temperatures to visit each of these small towns. The children anxiously await his arrival. The children dance with Santa and all his friends, take plenty of pictures, and even participate in a one of a kind Christmas spirit meter. The kids sing Jingle Bells as loud as they can, and if the meter hits Believe... they get to witness true Christmas magic in the form of snow. A priceless scene for children of all ages. Lou does this over a three week period in December. There is nothing like seeing Santa arrive in the middle of darkness in all his glory. One of the truest un-commercialized Christmas scenes you'll ever witness.

Angie Moss
Angie Moss

There are so many amazing things that Angie does to help those around her California community.

Angie donates so much of her time and money to other causes. She recently did a Random Act of Kindness month, where she did random acts to people and comes up with the cutest most thoughtful things. Angie is also a "Big Sister"  to a girl.  Angie made her an Easter Basket because the girl said she had never gotten one and is always doing special things for her that go way above and beyond what anyone else would do.

Angie also makes up care packages for the homeless, not only to give to homeless shelters but packages to give out to homeless people she sees on the street at random. Often giving out gloves and socks to keep warm in the winter months.
 

Galena Ojiem
Galena Ojiem

Two years ago, Galena Ojiem of Phoenix, New York stopped to speak with a homeless man named Tim.

After learning his needs, she created the program Hikers for the Homeless. As hikers have learned how to survive in outside conditions, she consulted them to determine essential items for the homeless population. Galena offers a "hand-up" instead of a hand-out, donating nutritional food, toiletries and first aid kits to shelters across New York.

Jennifer Patterson
Jennifer Patterson

Aim High was started by a Jennifer Patterson, who has taught at some of the most elite gyms.

However, through her church and volunteering, she noticed that there was a huge need in the North Tulsa area for programs that would help the youth at risk. But, gymnastics is expensive and youth in these areas could not afford to pay the premium prices that others gyms charged. Therefore, she developed a non-profit organization called Aim High in 2007. Aim High now serves so many youth in a high risk area by teaching them the philosophy of Flipping, Faith and Future. Something that many of these kids would have never got to experience if it wasn't for Aim High. Not only does Aim High Provide gymnastics training, they also provide the leotards and they offer tutoring to their students so they can get help with their school work if they need it. They recently started dance classes there and are hoping to open up more services such as piano lessons.

Cindy Perkins
Cindy Perkins

Terre Haute, IN woman creates Blankets of Love for homeless children.

Last winter, Cindy Perkins started Blankets of Love after learning about a woman at craft store purchasing fabric for homeless children.

With the help of her family, friends and her employer Texas Roadhouse, Cindy has delivered over 400 blankets to schools throughout Indiana to keep children warm during the winter.

Norma Snelling
Norma Snelling

What happens when a hiker is injured on a mountain? Or an Alzheimer's patient is lost?

Or a child is trapped in an urban disaster? The answer is simple. Search and rescue (SAR) teams, consisting of highly trained volunteers and dogs, are called to duty to help save lives. Norma saw a need to give these teams training, education, and certification. She co-founded the National Search Dog Alliance (NSDA) to accomplish this goal. Her dedication began 20 years ago when a deceased toddler was found within a 100 feet of her home, after a three-day search by poorly trained K-9 SAR teams.

Since then, she has traveled from Florida to Alaska on behalf of NSDA, testing and training dog handlers on proper procedures and techniques. For the past seven years, Norma has committed more than 80 volunteer hours per month to the organization. Her efforts are elevating the national standards of K-9 SAR teams across the country who bring loved ones back to their families.

Annye Cohen
Annye Cohen

New York woman begins an "Adopt A Senior" program at Manhattan Nursing Home. 

In 2004, while working at a Nursing Home in Manhattan, Annye learned that many of the residents do not have any family or visitors. For the residents, the holidays are a very sad time. That year, Annye started the "Adopt-A-Senior Program". Residents would complete a profile stating what they would like to receive for the holidays. Annye then contacted her family and friends, asking them to "Adopt" one of the Seniors and purchase a gift for them. That first year, one whole floor (40 residents) was adopted and all of them were thrilled with their gifts. Each year the program has grown. In 2013, over 4 floors were adopted including the dementia floor. The Nursing Home estimates over 1,000 gifts have been given over the past 10 years. 

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

NILMDTS offers remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby. 

NILMDTS trains, educates, and mobilizes professional quality photographers to provide beautiful heirloom portraits to families facing the untimely death of an infant. These images serve as an important step in the family's healing process by honoring the child's legacy.

Amanda Flamm
Amanda Flamm

Utah Mother honors her young daughter's memory with Millie's Princess Foundation.

Amanda's daughter Millie fought leukemia for 3 and 1/2 years (half of her little life) before she earned her angel wings. Amanda fought right alongside Millie. She fought for Millie and other children with cancer. She shared her story, in part, to draw support, strength, and faith from others. But, along the way, she, her husband, Brady, and Millie lifted others as they dealt with their trial with courage and grace. During their darkest days, Amanda provided love and service to her family, smiles and laughs and gratitude to the hospital staff, knowledge and support to other families experiencing childhood cancer, and an example of goodness to all observers dealing with their own trials. Amanda continues to fight on behalf of Millie through the Millie's Princess Foundation, raising money for families dealing with childhood cancer. 

Moving Veterans Forward
Moving Veterans Forward

Moving Veterans Forward does just that, moves veterans forward.

Founded by Ron Hernandez of Papillion, NE, a retired, disabled vet who wanted to continue his service to others upon his retirement. Volunteers work with the VA and collect used furniture and household items and then gave them to recently placed homeless vets.

Kasonja Holley
Kasonja Holley

Kasonja is helping the homeless people of Chicago.

Each week she pays for lunches and sometimes creates toiletry bags that she passes out at lunch time to the homeless people of Chicago. She walks the streets looking for them to make their day. The joy and happiness that she brings to these people's day is just amazing. These people receive a well nutritioned lunch and have the supplies to clean themselves if they so choose with a few toileties.  Kasonja changes her path each week and touches as many as she can. 

Greater Lafayette Honor Flight
Greater Lafayette Honor Flight

Two mothers turn their stories of tragedy and loss into selfless service.

Pam Mow and Dana Vann are Gold Star Mothers, meaning they have lost a child on active duty in the military. Bonded by grief, the mothers began thinking of community service projects to keep their sons' memories alive.

In April of 2012, they launched the first local Honor Flight for the Lafayette, IN veteran community.. The project flies local WWII and Korean War Veterans  "free of charge" to Washington, DC for a one day to visit their respective war memorials. For these men and women, this is a once in a lifetime trip and shows our nation's long overdue gratitude for their service and sacrifice. 

Lori Laxton
Lori Laxton

Lori Laxton of La Crosse, WI found her love of volunteerism as part of her drug addiction recovery.

After completing community service, Lori discovered the need for a support center for low income families. Her motivation to help these families and continue to give back led her to open the TLC Center, a donation center and food pantry where all are welcome.

Bob O'Neill
Bob O'Neill

Bob O'Neill of East Islip, NY is the Executive Art Director at Broadhollow Theatre Company.

He donates his time, as well as the theatre's space, costumes and scenery to the FREE PLAYERS program for adults and kids with disabilites. About 60 actors are featured in these sold-out productions, which have previously included Shrek and Les Miserables.

Katie Stagliano
Katie Stagliano

At 9-years-old, Katie Stagliano planted a cabbage seedling which grew to an amazing 40 pounds.

She donated her special cabbage to a local Summerville, SC soup kitchen where it fed over 275 people. Seeing others benefit from the donation of fresh healthy food, Katie aspired to start vegetable gardens and donate the harvest to the underserved. Thus she founded the non-profit Katie's Krops.

Now at 15-years-old, Katie's 5o1c3 organization has 77 kid-run gardens in 29 states. Her mission is to empower youth across America to end hunger one garden at a time, and provide funding to do so. She inspires kids to grow gardens and donate the harvest to the underserved in their communities.
 

Darlene Torisello
Darlene Torisello

For over 20 years, Darlene Torsiello of Edison, NJ has been donating winter clothes and Christmas gifts.

Each year, Darlene selects 30 students from schools in low-income communities who are in need of a little extra holiday spirit. At Christmas time, she and Santa visit the school and hand out the gifts.
Colors For A Cause
Colors For A Cause

Colors for a Cause helps bring financial assistance to families affected by cancer.

The Louisiana based non-profit pays for families' mortgage/rent, utilities, medical travel expenses and more. Colors for a Cause transforms equipment that local heroes use into large, mobile reminders of cancer patients who are also continue to fight every day.

Kayleigh Barnes
Kayleigh Barnes

Kayleigh Barnes created the Barefoot Beauties when she was only twelve years old.

She adopted the mission statement "energizing young woment through mentoring and community service." Together, and under Kayleigh's lead, the young women take on causes throughout the community and help to get things done. Whether it's helping the American Red Cross with preparedness education, raising money for local schools and charities, collecting donations to build comfort kits for veterans or helping with car washes and bake sales, these young ladies (ages 4-17) are tireless volunteers in the local community - donating over 4000 hours of service just last year. As the lead mentor, Kayleigh has inspired these young girls to forget their age and focus on their ability. For fun and confidence building, the girls travel together to pageants and compete as friends. Kayleigh is always there for her young mentees, she is a coach, a mentor, a friend, and a confidant. 

Susan Dufrene
Susan Dufrene

Lara's Gowns for Smiles mission is to supply children their own bright colored hospital gown.

Susan Dufrene sewed nearly 2000 gowns herself and now has the help of over 20 volunteers.  They sew gowns for infants to age 21 that have cancer and other long term illnesses. Each child is given the gown to keep. Gowns range from Superheroes, trucks, cars, princess, frogs, football teams, anything that the kids wish for, the volunteers will make.   

 
Cincinnati Center For Autism
Cincinnati Center For Autism

CCA believes that every child has the potential to learn.

CCA is committed to offering a variety of programs which address the communication, educational, social and behavioral needs of children with ASD, to assure that they are able to achieve happy, fulfilling lives.  CCA was formed with the sole purpose of improving the outcome for children with autism spectrum disorder and their families.  CCA works to identify a student’s areas of strength and challenge, and create an individualize program that supports their unique needs.

Susan Harvey
Susan Harvey

Susan Harvey of New Jersey is a Gold Star mother.

The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. was formed in the United States shortly after World War I to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. While they are still grieving themselves, these mothers muster up the strength to go out in the community and lend their shoulder to cry on. They organize events to bring awareness to the public about the "gold star" that they wear. Money that is raised goes to wounded warrior and scholarship funds for the children that lost a parent.  Gold Star Mothers are truly a selfless group that continues to amaze many around them.

Debbie Lawall
Debbie Lawall

Debbie Lawall is being recognized for her active involvement in 2 organizations.

The Centreville, VA native is involved with the Angel Fund and Actively Caring 4 People, a program that rewards young people who do random acts of kindness in their community. It is intended to spread kindness throughout schools in order to reduce bullying, suicide, depression and anxiety.

Cory Nichols
Cory Nichols

Cory is a caring 13 year old young man, with a generous heart, bringing joy to his community.

After seeing a documentary about the hard times people were facing in his community, Cory set out to make a difference. Instead of just offering his time, and his help, Cory came up with a plan and spoke with his local food pantry to see how he could help and he committed to raising $1200.00, which would provide $100.00 in groceries each month for one year. He purchased bracelets with his own money to give to anyone who donated to his cause; which he named: C the difference: Cory Cares (now a registered non-profit organization). Each month Cory shops for the most needed items for the food pantry, and stocks the shelves. 

Gerald Pallsen
Gerald Pallsen

Gerald Pallesen, an 86-year-old WWII veteran, travels all over Iowa at his own expense to play TAPS.  

Playing at veterans' funerals and war ceremonies, last year Pallesen drove over 17,000 miles and played at 152 funerals, sometimes accompanied by his 13-year-old grandson, Cody, who also plays TAPS.

Cynthia Stroud
Cynthia Stroud

Cynthia saw a need in her Stockton, CA community and created Bagful of Blessings.

Cynthia fills 1gal plastic bags with seasonal items such as hand warmers, chapstick, gloves, socks, toothpaste, toothbrush, combs, deodorant, a dollar or two and most important a pocket size Testament The Gospel of John. She hands them out to her cities homeless population that one sees all over the Grand Valley holding signs begging for help letting them know Jesus loves them and someone cares. 

Gary VenJohn
Gary VenJohn

Gary VenJohn is the head coach of the Phoenix Banner Suns.

The Banner Suns are members of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) and have been extraordinarily successful, consistently ranking among the top teams in the nation. Their message is simple and to the point: the challenges of a disability can be conquered; participation in recreational activities, even highly competitive ones, is possible and meaningful; a greater concern with safety issues is important and necessary.

Matt Armbruster
Matt Armbruster

For several years, Matt and his wife Tara have been essentially living on faith in Alabama.

Matt felt led to open up the Ransom Cafe and not charge for the food, but let people donate what they could. If you were broke and/or out of work, you could come in, eat for free. The Armbrusters are strong believers in a "hand up" not a "hand out" and have had many learn some kitchen experience in his kitchen. 

The food that Matt serves comes largely from food donations, or discounted groceries from cash donations. It's not quite in the hundreds yet, as he's only been open a few years, but he's helped a LOT of people that were unskilled and out of work learn a skill and find work. He and his wife Tara and many volunteers have helped to feed countless thousands of working class poor, as well as the unemployed.
 

Krista Brown
Krista Brown

Special Education teacher Krista Brown knows that prom is a big event for her students. 

Krista turned her classroom into a beauty salon and collected donations from local businesses in order to create a memorable prom experience for her students.
Dara Cossette
Dara Cossette

Dara helped create a volunteer outreach program, Meriden Community Angels, in Connecticut. 

It all started when her husband, a police officer, came home one day saying he found a little boy in town whose life and family where in bad shape, and wanted to get him a bike. Dara began a huge "Toys for Tots" drive during Christmas time. The whole community has gotten involved along along with help from the local police station and local Marines.
Sarah Gruenewald
Sarah Gruenewald

Sarah, 17, rehabbed an old food pantry for a year in her hometown of Millstatdt, IL. 

She built it up and made it much better with a years HARD work and finding volunteers and support. The pantry now helps so many more people and Sara still volunteers there.
Diane Osman
Diane Osman

Diane recruits much needed volunteers for the URS in Dayton, Ohio.

United Rehabilitation Services (URS) works to provide comprehensive programs & services to allow clients and their families a 'unique one stop shopping'� concept for therapy, nursing services, hearing and speech services, augmentative communication skills, vocational rehabilitation/transitional employment, social and recreational interaction and more to foster independence for each client.

Diane has the hefty task of recruiting volunteers to help URS raise money to fund their services and to encourage local companies and organizations to donate time to their office in order to give clients more one-on-one opportunities to learn and develop. Diane guides volunteers through the offices and gives them one-on-one guidance with clients, all while keeping a smile on her face! 

Danielle Staffeldt
Danielle Staffeldt

Danielle co-founded Tiny Treasures with Big Hearts for all the premature infants in the Hamburg, NY area.

They crochet the tiny hats these infants need to keep their heads warm in the neonatal intensive care unit. Often, these are the first gifts, the families receive for their babies. They generously and lovingly, make, collect and distribute not only the hats, but personal care items for the parents who stay with their babies. Shampoo, combs, razors and lotions are given to the families to help lessen the burden of stress and worry involved with the future of their babies. 

Erica Stone
Erica Stone

Erica Stone created SOS after she met a young, wounded Marine waiting for a bus that never arrived. 

Since May of 2007, SOS (Soldiers Organized Services) has provided free transportation to thousands of troops traveling between the Twentynine Palms U.S. Marine Corps military base and the airport.
Jeff Torkelson
Jeff Torkelson

Recyclable Bicycle Exchange collects used bikes, repairs them and awards them to kids of South FL.

Most of the bikes go to kids with health issues, kids from single parent households or kids with families with unusually low income levels. Founded in 2011, Jeff and RBX has awarded more then 100 complete bicycles, more then 200 individual parts, more then 200 bicycle adjustments and more then 300 brand new bicycle helmets. Jeff works tirelessly to collect bicycle, used parts, recruit volunteer mechanics, work on bicycles and then to award the completed bikes, helmets and accessories to kids to that they can play and enjoy the thrill of riding and the freedom that comes with it. 

Olivia Trueb
Olivia Trueb

Oregon girl, 15, gives back to local Children's Cancer Association (CCA) program.

Olivia and her family is serviced by CCA as Olivia has a life threatening illness that doesn't have a cure, only a treatment. The CCA has a "toy closet" that lacks things for teens to do. Olivia is planning a toy drive to help with the closet and hoping funds come in as well so she can go an purchase items for teens like herself.

Dawn Turner
Dawn Turner

Darby's Dancers provides free dance lessons and costumes to kids with special needs. 

The non profit program in Maple Grove, MN is run by volunteer dancers who work one-on-one with the kids, teaching and encouraging them. These dance lessons help kids develop their social skills and express their emotions through dance.
Jared Brown
Jared Brown

Each year, Jared gives up all his Christmas presents and gives them to pediatric cancer patients.

The amazing thing is that Jared himself is a special needs person and is only 17 years old. He suffers from Dystonia and is in a wheelchair. He cares so much about others and believes that all children deserve to be happy at Christmas, so that is why he does what he does. He simply wants to bring smiles to their faces!

Lew Cox
Lew Cox

Violent Crimes Services / Lew Cox has been humbly serving the entire state of Washington for 22 years.

It is the only community organization that directly help the survivors/family members of victims of homicide. Lew's daughter Carmen was violently murdered 22 years ago in California. Lew quickly found there were no services or support for homicide survivors. Lew humbly and bravely charted this territory to meet the many needs of those whose lives have forever have been tragically changed.  Lew is also a Chaplin who served at Ground Zero after the Septembr 11th attacks. 

Margarita Dehaan
Margarita Dehaan

Margarita has donated countless hours to create quilts, receiving blankets and more.

With donations from the community and the help of her fellow sewing club members, these quilts are then given to homeless people, those trying to get back on their feet and families who have lost everything in a house fire or disaster. The receiving blankets are given to a layette program that serves underpriviledged mothers who have just given birth so they have items for their newborns. In addition to quilting and sewing. Margartia and the sewing club also knit baby hats for newborns, prayer shawls for those in the hospital and so much more!

Kerry Enos
Kerry Enos

Kerry is an amazingly caring and giving person.

She created Be The Change You Seek http://tillthensmileoften.com/be-the-change/ to encourage people to do random acts of kindness as she does every week. Whether she is putting out baskets of tennis balls at her local dog park for everyone to enjoy, cleaning up trash at a local cemetery that seemed to have been forgoten, or giving the local delivery boy a 100% tip, her ideas are creative and undoubtedly puts a smile on the face of everyone she passes.

Jessica Kidd
Jessica Kidd

Gracie's Gowns was founded by volunteer Emergency Medical Technician, Jessica Kidd.

Jessica found Gracie's Gowns in memory of a little girl named Grace who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at 19 months old in 2005; in 2007 Grace passed away  at just three years old. The non-profit makes homemade hospital gowns for children battling life-threatening diseases to provide the kids and their families with a little comfort and hope. Gowns are made for preemies through teens with unique designs for each patient.

Jacie Knight
Jacie Knight

Jacie Knight founded the youth-inspired theater company, YOUTH PERFORMANCE COMPANY (YPC).

Based in the inner city of Minneapolis, her goal was to give young people the power, confidence and resources to change the world and 25 years later, she continues to be an artistic inspiration and community leader. The company's motto is BE BOLD, because it's a place where kids of any income, race, or background can confidently come together to explore their potential, work to create live theater experiences, and develop valuable life skills they'll need for the future.

She's received acclaim for her social justice focus, especially her efforts in bullying prevention, an initiative sparked through input from the Young Artists Council Leadership Program. Founder and Artistic Director Jacie Knight commissioned the original drama with music, MEAN. The show's story arc follows three different bullying situations, with a focus on the transition from bystanders to upstanders, and culminates in the rousing finale, Stand Up.�

Kelly Kowall
Kelly Kowall

In 2009, after her son was killed in action, Gold Star Mother Kelly Kowall created My Warrior's Place.

The resort is a peaceful retreat for surviving military members and other Gold Star Families to grieve and find solace. My Warrior's Place offers counseling, peer mentoring and support programs to people from all walks of life dealing with similar tragedies.

Terri Littleton
Terri Littleton

Terri lost her 30 year old daughter, Niki, about 6 months ago to sickle cell anemia.

Knowing how hard it is for a child to be in the hospital for extended lengths of time, Terri decided to honor her daughters memory by giving children a gift while they are in the hospital. Niki loved panda's, it was her favorite animal and she had several stuffed bears herself. So the choice was clear, Terri would present panda bears to these sick children for Niki. It started as a request from Terri during Niki's funeral. She asked that all attending bring a panda to honor Niki's memory. She in turn would take them children's hospitals in the area. They were so warmly and gratefully received by these children that Terri decided to continue this by turning the venture into a non profit organization called Niki's Panda Nation. 

Sarah Myers
Sarah Myers

Sarah is constantly bringing joy to the residents of the local nursing home which specializes in dementia.

Every day she goes down and spends time with the residents who don't always remember her or her selfless acts. Her arms are always giving hugs, high fives, and a helping hand to the residents and usually she is also bringing in some special treat. Whether they remember or not it means a lot to them and their families. It's one of those things where it's funny she does "charity work" and try to be involved as much as she can and never expecting any thanks. She does the things she does off the radar because she likes to do them, and they affect people's lives. She is just a special lady.

Shannon Palermo
Shannon Palermo

Shannon Palermo of Glendale, Arizona started building small mobile homes for the homeless. 

She endearlngly terms her efforts "Shannon's Shack's" and has completed five houses so far. The homes are made from recycled and donated materials and include full insulation, a sofa bed and security features such as locked doors and small windows.

Kathleen Baumgardner
Kathleen Baumgardner

Kathleen serves as executive director of the nonprofit FoCo Cafe.

Kathleen leads an effort in the Fort Collins, CO community to tackle food insecurity through the nonprofit FoCo Cafe. This cafe operates with a donation box.  You can pay what you can, pay what you normally pay, pay it forward so others might eat, or make your contribution with time and talent. This allows all people to access healthy meals with dignity and to be part of the solution. Kathleen has touched so many in our community because of her incredible heart and she welcomes everyone to the table.

Ty Brown
Ty Brown

The Brooklyn United Marching Band is a community-based organization that serves NYC youth.

As an art form, marching band combines the elements of musicianship and pageantry and allows each student to participate in an all-encompassing and life changing activity. Brooklyn United, led by Ty Brown, is focused on the development of youth through Academic Support, Character Development, Skills Building and Performance Opportunities. It is through these pillars that they strive to build strong, well rounded, healthy, confident and capable young people.

Ty Brown goes above and beyond the call to make sure every member feels like they have a home at BU. He goes beyond just music instructor, he is a confidant, a mentor and a father figure for many of these children.

Darla Carey
Darla Carey
Mother committed to educating her community about the effects of drugs after losing two children. 
 
Bismarck, MO mother Darla Carey lost two children within a year of each other; one to drugs and the other to suicide. Darla helps mothers who have lost their child(ren) to drugs and educates people on the terrible effects of drugs. She passes out literature, holds town meetings and coordinates fun events to keep the community united, safe and drug-free.  
Maureen Day
Maureen Day

Maureen Day is the Founder of Heaven Born.

Heaven Born is a 501(c)3 nonprofit who's mission is comforting moms and honoring babies through the making and distributing of pillows and booklets given to moms who have lost a baby. These pillows offer comfort and provides a lasting memory for parents that are grieving such a loss.

The simple book gives information on handling the emotional challenges an empty-armed mom will face in the days to come.

Kathy Greager
Kathy Greager

Donation organization Lightly Loved Toys helps low income families.

 
Lightly Loved Toys founded by Kathy Greager helps to provide Christmas and birthday presents for low income parents and their children. Families set up appointments and visit the store to pick out a book, a stuffed animal, a stocking and two other gifts. The organization is completely volunteer-run and has helped thousands of children in the community.
Jimmy Hallyburton
Jimmy Hallyburton

The Boise Bicycle Project has been turning drawings of kids dream bikes into holiday miracles.

Every year hundreds of children draw the bike of their dreams. Jimmy Hallyburton and BBP then raises the money needed to repair/recycle old bikes and buy new ones to bring those drawings to life. BBP brings the joy of bicycling to everyone in our community but most importantly to children who would not be able to afford a bike.

Pillars of Honor
Pillars of Honor

Pillars of Honor brings a replica of the World War II memorial to veterans unable to travel. 

The Illinois-based non-profit invites WWII veterans to a "Day of Honor," which includes viewing and learning about the memorial, visiting with other veterans and receiving recognition for the sacrifices they have made for our country.

Andrea Nichols
Andrea Nichols

Each year, the pediatric nurses at the University of Kentucky Children's Hospital host a Survivor Picnic.

The young survivors of cancer (and their families) come to a fair/picnic/carnival type atmosphere and have a day of celebration where no shots are given, chemo administered, blood drawn etc. This is a day for jumping on bouncy castles, color spraying hair (bald heads), face painting, train rides, etc. This annual event is 100% free to these kids and their families and is fully paid for through the fundraising efforts of the nurses like Andrea Nichols and others at the University of Kentucky Children's Hospital.

Marie Reedell
Marie Reedell

Marie Reedell is an individual who dedicates her time and energy to the community where she lives. 

She has worked with Project U.S.E.'s boatbuilding program, engaging youth in Newark, New Jersey in this hands-on projects with tangible results. Marie is able to build relationships that strengthen her community, and bring positive change to a neighborhood with a long history of challenges and violence. Her creativity and positive energy motivate everyone around her.

The boatbuilding program is a hands-on project where a group of students spend time learning about maritime history in their community, apply school curriculum, and learn to use tools to construct their own 16 foot wooded canoe. The best part is that upon completion, students launch their vessel into a local lake or river to celebrate their achievement.
 

Sarah Walton
Sarah Walton

Sarah Walton's journey toward helping the community started in her very own home.

Sarah's sister, Kayla was born with a rare chromosome deletion that causes the 14 yr old to have the mentality of a one yr old. Sarah recognized that it was difficult for Kayla to get outside of her comfort zone and was missing out on aspects of life we take for granted, like going to the movies. Sarah's goal was to expand that comfort zone, not only for Kayla but for children in the community with special needs and their families, thus the AllStars was born. Sarah's determination and passion abound, but she is quick to turn back to the children. When praised for her work and called a hero, she said, "These kids are the heroes."

Nora Boesem
Nora Boesem

South Dakota woman is an adoptive mother to nine kids.  

Nora and Randy Boesem are adoptive parents to nine children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This Newell, SD couple have fostered over 80 children with prenatal drug or alcohol exposure. Nora is a relentless adovocate for people with FASD and administers the support group Roots to Wings for all people affected by FASD.

Karen Bowman
Karen Bowman

Robinson, Illinois woman opens a donation center out of her home. 

After seeing a need for more resources in her small community, Karen Bowman opened a donation center out of her home. Karen's Krazy Giveaway Krew is volunteer run and encourages people to drop off what they no longer want and allows others to take what they need.

 
 
Lia Caravella
Lia Caravella

Middle School teacher creates Random Acts of Kindness Club for students in grades 5 - 8.

Ms Lia Caravella is the Character Education teacher at Memorial Middle School in Cedar Grove, NJ. This year, she started the Random Acts of Kindness Club which meets 2x each month after school. There has been an overwhelming response to the club thanks to Ms Caravella's encouragement and guidance. Children work on a wide variety of projects that help those in need in their community. Some examples include: making place mats for Thanksgiving to cheer up those dining at a shelter, creating Mother's day gifts for women who have been victims of domestic violence and making cards and puppets for children in the hospital. The students are so excited to build on their current work, they plan on giving up time over the summer to work on projects for the nursing home next door and prepare fall projects that include providing backpacks and supplies for children in need. Not only are they helping the community, but the club is empowering children by showing them they can make a difference. 

Michele Degarmo
Michele Degarmo

Physical Therapist provides free therapy to needy families calling her work "Miracles In Motion".

Michele Degarmo is a Physical Therapist and for the past three years she has been providing free physical therapy to children who do not have insurance or for families who can not afford to pay for physical therapy.  Michelle is currently working with 21 children and their families to help these children be stronger, have better balance, and help them to move and walk. The children's ages range from 3 to 13 years old. She does not ask for any payments, she is simply grateful to be able to help these children have a happy normal life. 

Kristine Greer
Kristine Greer

Ovarian Cancer survivor making a difference in Minnesota!

Kristine Greer is the founder and executive director of Charlene's Light Foundation for Ovarian Cancer (100% volunteers). She was diagnosed with Stage lll ovarian cancer twelve years ago and now has a passion to help others afflicted by this cancer.  In memory of a dear friend, Charlene Postigo, and in honor of all who have heard those words "you have cancer", Kristine promises to make a difference in this fight! Kristine worked for a full six months to get approval from various governing agencies to light Duluth, Minnesota's Aerial Lift Bridge and Enger Tower "Teal" in September 2013 to bring awareness to ovarian cancer and will do this again in September 2014.

Marie Kuck
Marie Kuck

Florida woman raising awareness for families with special needs children.

Nathaniel's Hope was started by a couple who lost their son with disabilities. Marie Kuck and her husband have a huge heart for kids with disabilities and do a variety of things free of charge. Each year they host a huge event where VIP kids can participate in activities which they love and their parents or caregiver can also find out about resources in the area to help. The Kucks also host 'buddy break' which is set up to give parents who care for VIPs a break for several hours while their kids have activities to enjoy with some trained buddies. At Christmas time, Nathaniel's Hope have carolers go sing and send out gifts to kids who are in hospitals or shut inside because of their disability. 

Monica Rhodes
Monica Rhodes

Helping at risk youth preserve history for years to come.

For the past year, Monica Rhodes has managed the National Trust for Historic Preservation's  "Hands-On Preservation Experience", or HOPE Crew program. The program is an initiative to train young people in preservation crafts while rehabilitating historic cultural sites that are open to the public. Monica works with The Corps Network to identify local youth corps to provide members for HOPE Crews. Most of these youth come from lower-income urban areas, and for many this is their first time exploring buildings, landscapes and historic sites where these projects take place. Because of Monica's work, important historic places are being saved all across the country, and the young people saving them take with them invaluable experience, a new perspective on the history of their surroundings and skills that give them a competitive edge in the job market and preparation to take advantage of the opportunities created for a new generation of preservation craftspeople.

Madison Steiner
Madison Steiner

Organization provides custom, hand-painted shoes to children living with disabilities. 

What began as a love of art and giving has grown into a movement of kindness. Through her work, Madison Steiner and her organization "Peach's Neet Feet" is raising consciousness about generosity. Madison invites everyone to begin spreading kindness in their own communities. These personalized, one of a kind gifts lift the spirits of children and their families. When a child is fighting an illness, the whole family is impacted. With the web of caring individuals and the gift of personalized shoes, families are supported and strengthened. And, the only thing that Peach's Neet Feet asks for in return... is for the child and/or family to spread kindness to another person. 

Art Van Riesen
Art Van Riesen

Retiree takes nursing home residents fishing.

When Art retired from the grocery store, he started washing dishes at the local retirement home. While interacting with the residents, he found out that four men who were 90 years of age and older loved to go fishing in their younger days. Art started taking them to the local fishing holes. He now takes them at least twice every week. He packs a lunch for them and makes sure that all the fishing equipment is along and working. The men love their outings. 

Tarah Warren
Tarah Warren

Ovarian cancer survivor aims to give hope during lonely, fearful chemotherapy treatments.

 Tarah Warren of Oklahoma City felt heartache, pain, fear and loneliness while in the hospital for stage IV Ovarian Cancer, and she met met many other patients feeling the same way. Thus, Tenaciously Teal was born. Modestly beginning with giving flowers and small treats to patients, the organization has now grown. Tencaciously Teal gifts cancer care packs of socks, energy bars, tea and even gas cards to chemotherapy patients all around the country.

Chris Ambroso
Chris Ambroso

Student-run high school sandwich shop gives youth real life business experience.

Near North Montessori School created a student-owned and student-run sandwich shop that teaches kids real life work skills. The students learn how to manage all aspects of a food-related business including finances, advertising, nutritional analysis, food safety and harvesting. At the end of the school year the kids vote on which charity to donate their profits.
Krystal Beckman
Krystal Beckman

Young girl who lived in the foster care system making a difference for future foster kids.

 
Krystal Beckman started Project Summer Fun because of a book she read "Three Little Words." The book is about a little girl who hops from foster home to foster home. Krystal knew that story well and had lived it so she wanted to make sure foster kids at The Children's Home in Tampa, FL had a great summer.  
 
Krystal got her adopted family together and explained her plan. She would hand out fliers and ask for donations for pool toys. Project Summer Fun lasted about a month and by the end of the month Krystal had collected more than 300 pool toys. Krystal delivered the pool toys to The Children's Home herself and everyone there was overjoyed.
F5RS BIB
F5RS BIB

F5RS Bunnies in Baskets visits nursing homes, schools and adult disability workshops.

At these visits, the "Bunnies in Baskets" comfort and provide happiness and tranquility. Adults and children of all walks of life always enjoy bonding with these cuddly friends.

Roxy Consoer
Roxy Consoer

The Knitters and Crocheters make prayer shawls for people going through difficult times.

Roxy and her team also make cancer caps, dishcloths, embroider dishtowels and provide other needed items to the Ronald McDonald House located near the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The Knitters & Crocheters of St. Michaels have also made scarves and hats for the Special Olympics, sent blankets and other items to Africa and other countries; and even sold quilts to benefit special education at Christian schools.

Melinda Frausto
Melinda Frausto

Melinda Frausto is the director at Rainbow Children's Home, a shelter for neglected teen girls.

 
Rainbow Childrens Home is a shelter for abused and neglected teen girls who have been removed from their homes. Melinda and Rainbow Home ensures these girls have a safe palce to stay and learn what a real family means.  Rainbow Home also gives the young girls opportunities to learn independent living skills to assist them with having a better life once they leave.  
Kiley Hatfield
Kiley Hatfield

Teen girl trying to buy a duet tandem wheelchair bicycle for her brother so they can go on bike rides together.

 
Kiley, a 14 year old National Honor Society student, helps her brother with special needs enjoy the everyday thrills of life. She has been actively working to raise money to buy him a duet tandem wheelchair bicycle so he can experience the simple yet extraordinanry excitement of riding a bike. She hopes one day they can go on family bike rides together with Ian's duet wheelchair bicycle attached to hers.
Drew McGuiness
Drew McGuiness

Drew and Serve Outdoors helps troops injured during the line of duty to enjoy outdoor activities once again.

Serve Outdoors shows the troops that they can still do things they thought were beyond their capabilities; and shows there are still people who care.  Serve Outdoors provides these outings to not only wounded warriors but also children with special needs.  They ensure that each participant has all their needs taken care of including lodging, food, bait and more.  

Serve Outdoors is 100% volunteer driven!

Julianne McMillon
Julianne McMillon

A non-profit special needs school for children with complex communication needs.  

How would you communicate if you couldn't speak? If any attempts you made to communicate were ignored, dismissed or overlooked and you were labeled unable to learn? The Ellis School of Atlanta works with students with these complex communication needs including deaf, blindness and multiple disabilities. Julianne is a teacher at this non-profit school for children and believes that communication is a human right and that all children have the right to an education regardless of their disabilities. Julianne brings many talents and with the team of professionals they have seen great improvements in their students.  Julianne's got the heart and training to communicate with and help special needs children.

Beth Mellott
Beth Mellott

With a background in engineering, Beth created a Family Math and Science Night.

Beth started with the vision to see families actively learning together in the school buildings during evening hours. Beth personally creates and brings the supplies for stations that volunteers can help run in addition to the stations that are provided by volunteers. There is no budget for these events so Beth strives to use everyday items and low cost items to create the stations that are provided for volunteers to run.

At just the third Math and Science Night, volunteers transformed Greene County Primary School into an interactive garden of learning with 16 activities dedicated to science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM.

Betty Nielsen
Betty Nielsen

Betty and her team make beautiful quilts for fallen soldiers families.  

 
These quilts are made with love! Betty meets with the families to learn about their loved ones and receives pictures from the families about their loved ones life. These pictures are the put on the handmade quilts; then Betty spreads out the quilt and prays over it. When the families receive the quilts it's as if a part of their loved one soul is still alive within those blankest. The quilt is a comfort for the families, to have something to hold on it.
Mitchie Curran
Mitchie Curran

Las Vegas Chef uses her culinary talents to bake and decorate themed cakes for critically ill children.

 
Chef Mitchie Curran of Las Vegas, Nevada uses her culinary talents to bring smiles to critically ill and underprivileged children. As part of the Icing Smiles program, Mitchie bakes and decorates custom cakes for critically ill children and their family members. She researches what the child is passionate about (superheroes, firefighters, Disney, etc.) and makes a one-of-a-kind experience incorporating their favorite things.
Laura Daugherty
Laura Daugherty

Since 1887, Charitable Union volunteers collect & distribute free clothing for people in need.

This year the staff and volunteers like Laura Daugherty are going to take new school outfits (shirt, pant or skirt, underwear and socks) to the area schools. The staff and volunteers will pull racks of new clothing into the school gym at each location and allow families the opportunity to choose a new outfit for each qualifying child. 

Charitable Union started in 1887 when a group of ladies saw children skipping school. After questioning the kids, they found that there were embarrassed about their clothing. The women gathered clothing from friends and neighbors and gave school outfits to the children. Believing that a solid education would help these families journey out of poverty. Fast forward 127 years and CU still serves the community in exactly the same way. 

Kathy Edman
Kathy Edman

Mercy Chefs heads into disaster zones and provides quality meals for as long as needed.

Kathy Edman and Mercy Chefs travel to emergency locations such as tornados, plant explosions and hurricanes to fill the physical need for food, the emotional need of comfort and the spiritual need of hope. Mercy Chef's does all they can, reaches all they can and fills as many needs as they can. 

Matt Even
Matt Even

St. Louis, Missouri man teaches community members sustainable, organic gardening techniques.

 
Matt Even of Hazelwood, Montana has dedicated much of his time and energy to Gateway Greening, an organization that educates and empowers people to strengthen their communities through gardening and urban agriculture. He teaches garden groups, homeless and other community members from all walks of life sustainable, organic gardening techniques.
Robert Haveles
Robert Haveles
Robert Haveles dedicates his time and energy to better this small town community.
 
Robert negotiated the purchase of an old church and established an IRS approved non-profit entity PHCC, Inc.  Together Mr. Haveles along with the other volunteer board of director members have re-purposed the church  in Three Rivers, a village of Palmer, into the Palmer Historical and Cultural Center for the community and the region offering live performances, lectures, special events and celebrations. 
 
Mr. Haveles for years has donated his time and efforts to better the small community of Palmer, Massachusetts.  He started an organization named "Palmer Events Planning" which has for the last several years taken over the sponsoring and planning of a town event formerly known as Nostalgia Day and this year has re-branded and titled it  "Celebrate Palmer" so that all the citizens of Palmer and other communities can come together for a day of fun.  It is a yearly event that many look forward to.  Haveles has also organized an annual event called "Pick Up Palmer" day when volunteers in the community help to beautify the small town.  This is held the weekend before Memorial Day to have pride for Palmer and in respect and to honor those who have served this country.   
 
 
 
Matthew Kaplan
Matthew Kaplan

When his brother became the victim of cyber-bullying, he decided to do something about it. 

He created Be ONE: The Be Open To New Experiences Project. Be ONE is a peer-to-peer community-building program for middle schoolers. Through games, team-buidling activities and guided discussions, Be ONE empowers students to be positive role models and to celebrate their similarities rather than tear each other down because of their differences. 
 
Haley Kirkpatrick
Haley Kirkpatrick

Young mother who gave her child up for adoption organizes Birth Parent meet ups to offer support.

 
Haley Kirkpatrick became a young mother at the tender age of 15. Knowing she couldn't provide the life her daughter deserved, she chose to give her up for adoption. Nine years later, Haley educates and supports birth parents, adoptive parents and children of adoption through her Facebook page, website and Birth Parent meetups.
Colleen Kisel
Colleen Kisel

This mom believes that kids being treated for cancer should receive a gift prior to each painful treatment. 

As a result of her experiences as the mother of a cancer patient, in August of 1996, Colleen formed the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation.

The Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation supports more than 9,000 children and teens monthly through in-kind donations from community toy drives, a variety of fundraising events and/or personal donations of toys. One-third of the children undergoing cancer treatments are teenagers. Realizing that toys were not appropriate for these older patients, The Treasure Chest Foundation began furnishing gift cards from a variety of merchants and fast food restaurants to the teens. 
Joe and Mary Lander
Joe and Mary Lander

The Landers tragically lost their two children, Amy and Jake, in two separate car accidents.   

For the last 10 years, In honor of their children, Joe and Mary host an annual softball tournament to raise money for civic projects from baseball fields and scoreboards to fire departments and county fairs. Thus far, over $60,000 has been raised. 

 
Leigh Wattenbarger
Leigh Wattenbarger

A full time college student volunteers at her old elementary school.

Leigh has always been involved in music. She was broken hearted when the music program was cut at her old elementary school. So now she volunteers her time and talents to 4th and 5th graders. There is no budget for music, practice cd's or performance travels. The kids love singing! They love learning about music, theater and they love performing! 
Robin Davis
Robin Davis

Mother of autistic son quits job & creates summer camp and after school program for kids with autism.

 
Robin gave up her job to help her autistic son, and many others, be accepted for who they are through an organization called Richmond Autism Integratoin Network (RAIN). She has since developed an after school program for autistic children and a summer camp for the all kids, called Free2BMe.
Tamye Haugen-Walsh
Tamye Haugen-Walsh
Tamye Haugen-Walsh brings community together and helps hundreds with a Facebook page.
 
Tamye Haugen created a Facebook page intended to allow people to express their feelings and connect those that need help with those that want to help. In less than a year, hundreds of people have helped or been helped in many ways, including Christmas gifts for 300 area children, school supplies and clothes for needy children, prom dresses for 100 girls and many more.
Linn Krafjack
Linn Krafjack

Wisconsin woman devotes her life to making and sending care packages to deployed soldiers.

 
When she learned that many service members sometimes wait up to three months to receive basic care items, Linn Krafjack of southern Wisconsin decided to do something about it. She devoted her life to thanking our military by creating Operation Ooh-Rah to provide 40-pound care packages to deployed U.S. troops.
Demagio Mansell
Demagio Mansell

Florida college student gives his own time & money to donate backpacks of school supplies to needy children.

 
To motivate today's youth to stay in school and strive for success, Demagio Mansell, student at Florida Atlantic University began the "Back Pack Program as a freshman in 2011 to provide back packs full of school suplies for less fortunate children in the West Palm Beach area. Thus far, with his own money and items he has collected, Demagio has given hundreds of backpacks to deserving children.
Michael McCowen
Michael McCowen

Brennan's Buddies visits families of newly diagnosed pediatric cancer patients. 

Brennan's Buddies is a lifeline for many families of newly diagnosed pediatric patients. Volunteers of this non-profit visit families in hospitals when they are in need of support, company and hope as their child is fighting cancer. 
Kimberly Patton
Kimberly Patton

Heal with a Horse gives children with life-threatening illnesses a safe haven with horses. 

 
Kimberly Patton created Heal with a Horse two years ago in hopes of helping children with life-threatening illnesses a chance to learn how to ride and take care of horses. This equine therapy program has helped many kids not only improve their mental and physical health, but also improve their self-esteem, social skills and overall happiness.
Kelly Stack
Kelly Stack

These professionally trained dogs are vital in improving independence, self-esteem and quality of life.

 
Canine Angels Service Team gives assistance dogs to kids and young adults with physical and developmental disabilities to help promote independence and a higher quality of life.
 
 
Gary Weitzen
Gary Weitzen

Gary has brought joy to thousands of families of kids with autism by providing free activities.

 
For more than ten years, Gary Weitzen from New Jersey has made it possible for thousands of children to enjoy bowling, surfing, horseback riding, swimming, gymnastics and more through an organization called Parents of Autistic Children (POAC). During these activities, families can bond and children with autism can learn social and communication skills that most people are born with.
Mindy Williams
Mindy Williams

Grandmother of autistic boy raises money to build a sensory room at school.

 
When her grandson was diagnosed with autism, Mindy Willams decided to do what she could to support families that have with kids with autism. From starting a Facebook support group to fundraising for a sensory room at school, Mindy has been a strong advocate for the autism community in Centralia, IL.
Kendra Witt-Doyle
Kendra Witt-Doyle

Idaho woman uses empty land from Blue Cross of Idaho to create a "giving garden". 

 
Kendra Witt-Doyle started the Giving Garden after convincing her employer to allow her to grow organic produce for area food banks and food pantries on the company's unused land. After the first year, nearly 50 volunteers tended the community Giving Garden and cultivated more than 1,000 pounds of produce for people in need. Now in its second year, the program is thriving with even more volunteers, including people who have been recipients of donated food.