Scholastic - BE BIG! - First Prize Winners

These ten first prize winning ideas will each be honored with a $2,500 community grant (via HandsOn Network affiliate organizations or designees) from the BE BIG Fund:

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Will L. Age & Entry: 7 / Team Entry: 11 Team Members Hometown: Texas
BIG Idea: Our BIG Idea is "Hits Against Hunger," a program that raises awareness of the hungry in our community through playing baseball. We are a group of baseball players who want to make a difference in our community by recruiting 100 elementary age kids to participate. The kids would find a sponsor to pledge $1 to the food bank for every "hit" they make in their baseball season. This is an important idea because it is going to raise awareness of the hungry in our community and also raise money to help feed them. The Food Bank in our city needs our help. Each month the food bank provides hunger-fighting charities with groceries for 44,000 families, distributes food for more than 576,000 prepared meals and snacks, and helps feed almost 3,000 children each week. That's right...feeds 3,000 kids each week! The demand for food rose 25% last, so the hungry need our help and our community needs our help to make it a better place to live for all. Clifford's BIG Ideas will inspire us and others through "Hits Against Hunger" when we are playing fair, respecting the rules, sharing equipment, being truthful about our scores, being good friends when we encourage our teammates, believing in ourselves to reach goals, being kind to the hungry, being responsible and working together to help others in need.
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: Volunteer Center of North Texas

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Erika F. Age & Entry: 17 / Individual Entry Hometown: New Jersey
BIG Idea: Homelessness, hunger, and poverty are related pervasive global problems that concern me deeply. My BIG idea helps expand and improve the Atlantic City Rescue Mission (ACRM) Farming Project. For the past two years, I have been working with ACRM on this project. The ACRM Farming Project offers perpetual hunger relief to the poor, while at the same time enhances the sustainability of ACRM, who continuously serves hundreds of thousand hungry and homeless; and then, in addition creates service-learning opportunities to those who wish to follow. Thus, in order to address the critical deficit of food, I have helped develop the "ACRM Farm Project" to grow and harvest our own food to feed the poor and hungry. The magnitude of this project will create a community movement that: not only feeds the hungry, but also links young Americans to individuals in need. With the current economic crisis, the need for food has rapidly grown and the importance of the ACRM Farm Project has become more critical to decreasing hunger. Thus, in order to address the growing deficit of food, I continue my plan to work with the ACRM to grow and harvest our own food to feed the poor and hungry of South Jersey. My goal is to document this project so that it can be replicated throughout the United States, in rural, suburban and urban areas.
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: United Way of Atlantic County's Volunteer Center

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Leigh P. Age & Entry: 17 / Team Entry: 5 Team Members Hometown: Texas
BIG Idea: Our BIG idea for our community is a tutoring program called "Summer Express" that would directly facilitate the education of recent refugee children. These kids, who vary in age from 6 to 12, have been in the United States for less than 6 months. Our refugee population comes with a sporadic history of formal schooling, and their education has suffered as a result. Behind in school, with few English skills, our kids are at a great disadvantage, and their new schools are not able to provide them with the individual attention that they need. Summer Express gives these kids an opportunity to learn and grow in a safe, nurturing environment. The amazing tutors that make Summer Express possible are current students and recent alumni from my school. We focus on math, English, and writing skills to give the kids the strongest foundations they can possibly. Our BIG idea is important because education has the power to transform someone's life. The instruction the tutors provide, as well as the total English immersion proves invaluable in advancing our kids' language and academic skills. While the actual learning that takes place during Summer Express is incredible, arguably the most important impact is the love of learning the tutors instill in their children.
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: Volunteer Houston

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Mackenzie B. Age & Entry: 17 / Individual Entry Hometown: Georgia
BIG Idea: Six years ago I was diagnosed with a painful neurological condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I have lived in terrible pain since developing RSD, the only way I found to get my mind off the pain was to escape into a great book. It was during this time that my doctor told me about Murphy Harpst, a treatment center for some of our countries most abused children. Murphy Harpst was hoping to open a library for the children who reside there; they had the room but few books. I thought about how reading helped get my mind off her pain, and hoped that books could do the same thing for these children, helping them escape their emotional, mental and physical pains and fears. I gathered up books I no longer needed and asked friends and neighbors if they had books to donate. Soon my book drive took off. I collected and donated over 10,000 books to Murphy Harpst, filling their library to capacity. I thought if this facility needed books, maybe others did as well. To date, I have collected over 46,000 books for "Shelter Libraries" in 6 states and plans to spread nationwide.
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: HandsOn Atlanta

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Jenny Chen Age & Entry: 19 / Team Entry: 3 Team Members Hometown: North Potomac, MD
BIG Idea: My name is Jenny Chen and as a high school junior, my brother and I started a nonprofit children's magazine called JJ Express Magazine that uses comics to excite, encourage, and engage youth in social service. Over the last 4 years, our team of middle and high school youth has worked with artists from all over the world including Brazil, France and Vietnam. We have readers from all over the country and many kids tell us about how much they love learning about new things through our comics. None of this would have been possible without the support and guidance of our adult mentors. Unfortunately, not all young people are lucky to have adult mentors. Our BIG Idea is to a mentoring program "Connect through Comics" where we will pair at-risk youth in the DC area with retired artists as mentors. Together these pairs will brainstorm, create and edit comics that address social issues in our area. The challenge of the creative process will bring both mentors and mentees together to form an important and healthy relationship based on words and images, humor and trust.
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: DC Cares

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Shelly Sellwood-Davis Age & Entry: 24 / Team Entry: 4 Team Members Hometown: Lexington, KY
BIG Idea: In May of 2009, two Kentucky AmeriCorps State programs, SUCCESS Corps and FRYSC Corps, collaborated with Family Resource Centers, schools, businesses, and over 100 volunteers around the state to build and deliver 57 twin-size beds with mattresses and 'bedtime bags' to help Kentucky children sleep better. The bedtime bags were full of donated items like pillows, sheets, teddy bears, pajamas, bedtime books, nightlights, homemade dream catchers, toothbrushes, and other items designed to help children have better bedtime rituals and improve the quality of their sleep. In 2010, the "Build-A-Bed" project was held as a 24-hour "build blitz". We came together as AmeriCorps members and community volunteers to build over 500 twin-size beds. The event, complete with entertainment, was the national kickoff event for AmeriCorps Week. We again relied on community support and donations, as well as increased partnerships to complete the project. By building beds and providing items to promote safe sleep and calming bedtime rituals, we hope to improve the bedtime routines and sleep quality of Kentucky children, bring communities together to tackle a shared challenge, recognize and capitalize on local communities' and individuals' strengths and expertise, and empower volunteers with new skills and confidence.
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: United Way of the Bluegrass Volunteer Center

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Milan P. Age & Entry: 15 / Team Entry: 5 Team Members Hometown: Florida
BIG Idea: Our BIG idea is a bedside "Teen Music Hospice Program" at The Suncoast Hospice of the Florida. The Teen Music Program utilizes teen volunteers to perform live music for Hospice patients. The idea for our Teen Music Program was based on two things that are very important to me, music and giving back. There are numerous benefits of music to palliative patients. Music promotes relaxation, pain control, stimulates happy memories, and brings a sense of peace and well being. I believe that bringing music to a person at the end of their life is a great gift. I was inspired to create the Teen Music Program by my grandfather, whose spirits were lifted while he was recovering from surgery when a volunteer performed music at the beside for him in the hospital. It is my hope that having end of life patients have a teenager, like myself, play music for them will not only help them cope with the stress and pain they feel but also reassure them that the generation they worked for, the generation they are leaving behind, is something they can treasure and be proud of.
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: HandsOn Tampa

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Lindsay Hyde Age & Entry: 28 / Team Entry: 18 Team Members Hometown: Miami, FL
BIG Idea: I was raised in Miami, Florida by a strong single mother. As a result, as a high school student I began "Strong Women, Strong Girls," a mentoring program that pairs young women ages 18-22 as mentors to low-income girls in ages 8-11. The young women work in teams as mentors to a group of 10-12 girls. They meet once per week to learn life skills and share the stories of strong and successful women. When I left Miami to go to college, I continued to build the program. After graduating, I turned Strong Women, Strong Girls into a non-profit organization. Throughout this time, my dream has been to bring Strong Women, Strong Girls back to where it began: Miami. In 2009, this dream became to become real with a small pilot program in Miami. There has been tremendous demand for Strong Women, Strong Girls. The School Board has recognized the program and recommended that it be made more widely available. With 26,000 girls in Miami eligible for SWSG, we have a long way to go! Looking ahead, our BIG Idea is to more than double to size of the Strong Women, Strong Girls program in Miami in the next year.
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: HandsOn Miami

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Sandy Warrick Age & Entry: 55 / Team Entry: 48 Team Members Hometown: Albuquerque, NM
BIG Idea: For many years, our Kindergarten class has been spearheading a "Kids Baby Food Drive" at our school to supply food for homeless and needy babies in our community. We discovered that, although our local food bank receives generous donations from the community, the need to feed babies is often overlooked. This project has truly made the children realize that little people can make a BIG difference in our community. The idea is simple. Each child agrees to do chores at home in exchange for 50 cents a week. They spend this money on baby food instead of "wants". The children bring in wrapped baby food to exchange with classmates during the holidays instead of spending $5 on a gift. Baby food is also brought in to celebrate the 100th day of school and other holidays. Our class brings in at least 500 jars of baby food each year. We ask other classrooms to help, which has raised the total donation to 6000 jars per year. This project teaches a great lesson in responsibility, working together and kindness. If it were to spread to every school district in America, we would make great strides in combating hunger in this nation. THAT is a BIG IDEA!
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: generationOn

BE BIG! First Prize Winners Name: Rohan C. Age & Entry: 15 / Individual Entry Hometown: California
BIG Idea: My name is Rohan and I am currently a sophomore in high school. My hometown in California is in a highly vulnerable earthquake-prone area located on a large fault. Researchers estimate a 99% chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake to rock our area within the next 30 years. In addition, we have one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the nation, as well as a large percentage of frail, homebound senior citizens. My BIG idea is to create "Earthquake Kits" that are age and linguistically appropriate for these seniors in my community. The kits would include water, a flashlight, first-aid kids, medicine dispenser, non-perishable foods, etc. Given language barriers, many seniors are not able to comprehend English and are unable to follow instructions on the television or radio. Therefore, instruction booklets would be created and translated into the various languages widely spoken languages in my community (Spanish, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Farsi and Tagalog). When I see my BIG idea coming to life, I imagine a senior-friendly community - one that is pro-active in supporting our most vulnerable seniors; an intergenerational project being executed; community partners and businesses contributing; and, a village supporting seniors.
Participating HandsOn Network Partner Organization: generationOn