A 12-year-old from Oceanside was honored earlier this week as a top youth volunteer of 2013 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program honoring middle level and high school students for outstanding volunteer service.
Cory Nichols, 12, of Oceanside, was one of two state honorees alongside Samuel Lam, 17, of Old Westbury.
Also honored as a distinguished finalist was South Side High School senior Adam Moss.
Nichols, a seventh-grader at Oceanside Middle School, has committed to donating $100 worth of food to a local food pantry each month for an entire year, and is so far greatly exceeding his goal.
Nichols knew he had to help feed the hungry after watching an HBO documentary about the hard times many people were going through on Long Island, where he lives.
“After seeing this documentary, I realized that people all around me, people who I am sure I go to school with, are suffering with hunger,” he said.
After speaking with his parents, Cory decided he would name his campaign “C the difference: Cory Cares.”
Nichols first talked to the director of the local food pantry about its needs and determined that he could make a significant difference if he could donate $100 worth of food on a monthly basis. He and his mother then spoke to a supermarket manager who agreed to give Nichols a 10 percent discount.
Then, Nichols got to work soliciting monetary donations through social media and emails to family, friends and neighbors. After he receives a contribution, Nichols sends each donor a thank you note, along with a bracelet imprinted with the name of his project.
Every month, he contacts the food pantry to find out its specific needs, carefully peruses grocery store shelves for bargains, delivers bags of food to the pantry and even stocks the shelves himself.
“It is so rewarding,” he said. "Seeing the shelves go from empty to not so empty.”
In just the first two months of his project, Nichols raised $3,000 for groceries and is continuing his efforts to help feed his community’s hungry.
As state honorees, Nichols and Lam each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013.
As a distinguished finalist, Moss, 17, of Rockville Centre, is the youth ambassador for the Long Island chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and, having been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes since he was 5 years old, has been motivated to raise more than $85,000 by leading a team in the organization’s annual charity walk.
Moss also is a buddy to a boy with down syndrome through his school’s Best Buddies Club, for which he currently serves as president.
The program also recognized seven other Distinguished Finalists from New York along with Moss:
- Shane Carman, 17, of Geneseo
- Kevin Chaves, 16, of Northport
- Jennah Ferrari, 11, of Syracuse
- Marcella Ferraro, 17, of Catskill
- Stefanie Kaufman, 17, of Westbury
- Steven Trezza, 17, of West Hempstead
- Alec Urbach, 17, of Roslyn Heights
The distinguished finalists each will receive engraved bronze medallions.