Utah (ABC4 News)- Utahns are striving to make a difference all around the Beehive State
Armani McFarland and Gabbie Lundberg have been dubbed Utah’s two top teen volunteers, according to the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The girls are sharing their stories of volunteerism and the difference it can make in human lives.
Fifteen-year-old Armani McFarland from Farr West is a Junior in High School. Armani has conducted 27 collection and fundraising drives over the past seven years yielding more than 6,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies for children from low-income families.
She has also collected food, books, toys, clothing and hygiene items for other individuals and families in need.
When in the third grade, Armani heard from her teacher that there were kids in their own community who went to bed hungry at night.
“It started when I was in third grade, my teacher was talking about kids that go to bed hungry and don’t have enough food to eat in their house and that made me really sad and I wanted to help with it so I started with a food drive….and it all started from there,” Armani says.
Armani’s response to the children in need was a food drive that collected 1,000 pounds of food for a local food bank.
This experience just started Armani’s passion for helping others with many other targeted service projects.
Armani’s mantra is “One Can Make A Change” so she turned it into a non-profit she founded in 2016.
She used the non-profit’s website to conduct her collections and fundraising initiatives. She seeks donations through her website, solicits support from local businesses, and arranges activities.
Recently, Armani helped pay for a new $12,000 roof on a teen shelter in Ogden. She also has traveled to Ghana with an international nonprofit to help install a water tank for children in an orphanage.
Twelve-year-old Gabbie Lundberg from South Jordan is the most genuine seventh-grader around.
She organized a day camp in her basement for children in her neighborhood to raise money for refugees in Utah.
Gabbie says she loved babysitting kids. Growing up and says she watched her mom volunteer on behalf of refugees and wanted to help too.
So, she decided to combine her love of children with her desire to assist refugees by hosting a daycare event and then donating the proceeds.
“Service is such a great thing and it helps you be like self-fulfilled instead of like staying at home and watching tv or playing video games you’re out there helping people and making a difference in their life,” Gabbie says.
Gabbie calls her program “Camp Awesome” and created it for kids 4 to 7 years old. She distributed her flyers around her neighborhood, tidied up her basement, and gathered toys, games, and music to entertain the kids.
“I had a whopping 38 kids who wanted to come to camp!” Gabbie says.
Camp Awesome raised almost $200, which Gabbie donated to a Utah organization that supports refugee families. She plans to hold her camp again next summer.
Armani and Gabbie were honored at the big national youth volunteer awards event, the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, in Washington DC.
At the awards ceremony, they were honored by Award-winning actress Viola Davis, along with the other 100 state teen volunteer winners from all across the United States. Utah Strong is a series celebrating Utahn’s will to do good. If you know anyone who goes above and beyond to help someone or an individual who is extraordinary themselves fill out of the form here.
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