The Northern New York Community Foundation has for years found creative ways to inspire young people to become more civically active.
Representatives of the Watertown-based organization have come up with another such idea, one designed to confront food insecurity. It kicked off in mid-March, and the winners of a new competition were announced last week.
Two months ago, NNYCF’s LEAD Council launched the Canstruction for Northern New York contest. Teams of youths were invited to collect canned goods along with nonperishable food items and hygiene products and create a sculpture out of them.
Winners would be selected in three categories: People’s Choice Award, Top Collection Award and Best Design Award. The winning teams would donate all their items to two school-based backpack programs and one community food pantry. These teams also would share $1,750 in grant money to three different nonprofit organizations of their choice.
NNYCF announced the winning groups May 9.
Katie Blunden’s statistics class at General Brown High School in Dexter won the People’s Choice Award for its structure, titled “The Giving Tree.” The students also won Top Collection Award by collecting 914 items. Stage Notes, a nonprofit theater organization in Watertown, won the Best Design Award for its structure, titled “An Evening at the Theatre.”
“This project was an excellent opportunity for students to give back to their community while also showcasing their individual talents. I was blown away by their teamwork and creativity,” Blunden said, according to a news release issued May 9 by NNYCF. “I have no doubt that this will have a long-lasting effect on my students while also greatly helping the General Brown backpack program.”
“Congratulations to General Brown and South Jefferson on their wonderful designs. Our students are thrilled; they loved the project idea. One of our students, Arianna Dyer from South Jefferson High School, suggested donating the items to the Rohde Center. All our students and families participated in collecting the items,” Stage Notes Artistic Director Ticia Aumell said. “Through Stage Notes’ dedication to cultivating, promoting and advocating for the arts in our community, we thought it fitting to choose Watertown Lyric Theater as the recipient of any grant money won through this project. Thank you to the LEAD Council for creating such a creative outreach opportunity for our students.”
Through the LEAD Council, NNYCF has an effective avenue for helping to improve the quality of life of people in this region.
“The LEAD Council was chartered in 2014 as advisory committee of the Northern New York Community Foundation empowered to identify and address strategic needs in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. The council is comprised of 18 young professionals who live and work in the tri-county area with an interest in enhancing the quality of life for all in the north country. LEAD is an acronym that reflects four important guiding principles of the Community Foundation’s work: Leadership, Engagement, Access and Direction,” according to information from NNYCF. “The council works to gain a deeper understanding of community needs, issues and the nonprofit sector to augment the Community Foundation’s mission and work. Since its inception, the LEAD Council has developed several creative initiatives to benefit the community and region. Strategic efforts include its LEADing the Way volunteer program, enhancements to child care and early childhood development programs, hyper-local support for anti-poverty initiatives, community giving challenges and building philanthropic values in the region’s schools through student-led projects.”
We congratulate the winning teams in this contest and commend all the students who participated. NNYCF deserves credit for raising awareness among young people of important social issues and providing them a way to get involved.
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