March 28, 2013 at 6:48 AM
Three little volunteers with big plans to help their community have won funding to put their ideas into practice. The Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills (JLOSH) announced this week that it has awarded $100 to 10-year-old Dalton Favors of South Orange and another $100 to fourth graders Katie Lawler and Valerie Hoodis, who live in Short Hills.
The judges of the League's Littlest Volunteers competition were impressed by Dalton's plan to improve bus trips to and from Jefferson Elementary School in Maplewood, where he is a fifth grade student. He is a member of the bus safety patrol and was concerned that some of his fellow students were compromising safe journeys by disrespect for both the driver and the rules.
Dalton, who hopes to be a Supreme Court Justice or a musician and songwriter when he grows up, will use the prize money to make a bus safety video and to print copies of rules he has drawn up for distribution to everyone at the school.
Glenwood Elementary classmates Katie, aged 10, and Valerie, 9, are planning to use the money as seed-funding for a bake sale to support the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
Brownies, cupcakes, lemonade and crunchy chocolate chip cookies made to Katie's grandmother's special recipe will be on offer by the girls, who hope to advertise the bake sale to their class with their teacher's permission.
The pair, both keen cooks, were inspired to enter the Littlest Volunteers contest by seeing the volunteer work done by Katie's mom, Kara, who is an Active member of JLOSH.
Presenting the prizes at a special ceremony at the Short Hills Hilton, JLOSH President Kate Lee praised all three winners for their outstanding ideas.
"Not only will these awesome young people help improve their communities, but they will also show their fellow students what can be achieved. JLOSH is delighted to recognize their talent and effort, and we hope it will encourage them and their friends to think about how they can continue to make the world a better place."
Previous contest winners have included a project to brighten up a South Orange group home by planting flowers and the creation of a mobile library for residents of an elderly care facility.
The contest is part of a larger program organized by JLOSH that introduces elementary school age children to the concept of volunteerism through the award-winning book, The Littlest Volunteers, written by JLOSH member Danielle Speckhart and published by JLOSH, with a CD read by actress/singer Raven-Symone. The aim of the Littlest Volunteers program is to teach the values and rewards of volunteering in a fun way that children can understand and enjoy.
Studies show that exposure to volunteering at an early age can teach important life skills, improve confidence, promote healthy lifestyle choices and can lead to a life-long commitment to volunteering.
The Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills, Inc. is an organization of women developed as civic and community leaders creating lasting community impact. Celebrating its Centennial this year, JLOSH provides service to East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Milburn, Orange, Short Hills, South Orange, Springfield and West Orange, and reaches out to women of all races, religions and national origins. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. To learn more about JLOSH, visit jlosh.org or find it on Facebook.