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Ceremony recognizes students for community service

The Rowan Rotary Club and the Rowan County United Way last week recognized students for their service to the community with the annual awards. The ceremony was held Thursday at Catawba College.
Organizers say it was the largest event in the award ceremony’s 18-year history. Individual awards were given to Zane Pollard, Haley Shore and Haley Cole.
The awards, established in 1995 by Dr. Jim Duncan, are based on the Rotary International motto of “Service Above Self,” and are made possible by Rotary, the United Way and an anonymous donor.
This year, 267 young people or groups were nominated for the awards, which honor students and groups at the elementary, middle and high school levels for their volunteer service.
These nominations totaled more than 48,107 in volunteer hours for the 2012-13 school year and represent 1,803 students.
Three judges reviewed the nominations — Kaye Green, director of the Hefner VA Medical Center; Rex Otey, vice president of resource development of Catawba College; and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College CFO Janet Spriggs.
Student winners in each division receive a medal and a Visa gift card. They also receive a check in the amount of half their award for the school or organization that nominated them.
In each individual category, the first-place winner receives $250, first runner-up receives $100 and the second runner-up receives $50.
In the group categories, each first-place winner receives a $500 contribution to the organization, each first runner-up receives a $100 contribution and each second runner-up receives a $50 contribution.
Service Above Self awards this year went to:
• Zane Pollard, winner
Zane read about a woman who had cancer and her desire to take her child to Disney World before dying. He placed jars inside local convenient stores and restaurants to raise money for her trip. His home caught fire in August and he was able to awaken his mother, who was in a carbon monoxide induced sleep. Zane, his mother, father and a friend were able to get out of the house. He is a Boy Scout and interacts with his uncle, who is mentally challenged, on a daily basis.
• Olivia Vinson, first runner-up
Olivia raises money for the CROP Walk and Faithful Friends Animal Shelter. She petitions the staff to participate and puts on skits to make everyone aware of her efforts. She has raised awareness regarding hunger and the need for food with both organizations.
• Kandus Kimball, second runner-up
Kandus is a warm, compassionate child who assists on a daily basis with an autistic child whom most cannot communicate. She defends, plays, cares and assists his child and is not afraid of his disability. “Even though he cannot express his emotions, he does know that Kandus loves him and will protect him always,” according to those who nominated Kandus.
• Haley Cole, winner
Haley was in charge of sponsoring 20 children from the local Salvation Army’s Angel Tree through Erwin Middle School’s Junior Honor Society. She kept records of everyone’s needs and what the club would provide. She sent emails and text messages to remind club members of dates and deadlines. She ran the collection site as well as ensuring the boxing and delivery of gifts. Haley worked diligently to make sure the project was completed in a timely manner logging countless hours of her time.
• Frank Torres, first runner-up
Frank rescued his sister who was drowning and then went back out into the water to rescue his unconscious cousin. He got caught in the current but he was able to stay above water. Frank had to be hospitalized following the rescue. Frank put others before himself and is truly a hero.
• Amera Walker, second runner-up
Amera created friendship bracelets and sold them so that special needs children would have an opportunity to participate in Special Olympics. She bagged food at Main Street Mission and helped prepare breakfast at Rowan Helping Ministries. Amera has devoted many hours to helping others.
• Haley Shore, winner
Haley worked with the South Rowan FFA Food for All Program. Her goal was to grow and supply food to those in need in the community. She organized students to help harvest the food and she delivered 4,926 pounds of produce to Main Street Mission and Unity mobile meals. Haley spent 117 hours participating in other FFA projects. Haley has been challenged with health and family issues. She lost a kidney in January of 2013 but continued her hard work. She kept her grades up, continued her service to the FFA and has been an inspiration to others.
• Abby Cozart, first runner-up
Abby is a dedicated volunteer at Happy’s Farm. She has served as a summer camp counselor, a tutor, as well as helping with special need’s children. She has volunteered more than 500 hours to help with daily operations of the farm including the rescued animals. Abby planned her own fundraising project for the farm and collected more than $33,000.
• Brandy Kegeris, second runner-up
Brandy worked at two annual fall festivals at Granite Quarry Elementary School where she assisted with face painting and served lunch. She worked with the local Humane Society to secure donations of pet food. She also volunteered for the Santa Run 5K, Faith Elementary Holiday Store, the Wonderland Ball at the Meadows Retirement Center and the Norvell Theater.
• Overton Elementary School, winner
This group volunteered for the Red Cross, Relay for Life, the Salvation Army, Rowan Helping Ministries, Community Care Clinic, the Norvell Theater, Meals on Wheels, Support Our Troops, Faithful Friends and many others. They collected box tops, pop tops and soup labels raising almost $400 for the school’s PTA. These students spent more than 1,000 hours volunteering in the community.
• Girl Scout Troop No. 1441 , first runner-up
This troop planted and harvested a garden to feed the hungry. They stocked shelves at Main Street Mission, worked as Backpack Buddies for Ebenezer Lutheran Church, bought hot dogs for hungry children at Lane Street Baptist Church and donated rice to starving children in other countries. The girls gained a sense of pride knowing they made a difference.
• Hands and Feet Camp, St. John’s Lutheran Church, second runner-up
This group participated in sorting medicine at the Community Care Clinic, providing treats and visits to the residents at the Lutheran Home and read to children at St. John’s Child Development Center. They also made treats and thank yous for the police department, fire department and the emergency room staff at the hospital. The group was involved in Bible study along with their service to others.
• Corriher-Lipe Middle School Beta Club, winner
The club members served as greeters and guides, for all back to school events. They participated in Support Our Troops, collected items for the battered women’s shelter, conducted fundraisers for Relay for Life, assisted South Rowan High School in their “Service South Rowan” Project, created goody bags for the staff and brought the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle to the campus to collect money for the Angel Trees. These students maintained a GPA of 3.5 or higher. This group provided invaluable services to the school and their community by providing assistance to hundreds of others.
• Erwin Middle School National Honor Society, first runner-up
After a staff member was killed in an accident, members sent a love offering to assist with bills and funeral expenses for the family. The club provided snacks for Teacher Appreciation Week, sponsored a Make-A-Wish grant, supported the Wounded Warrior Project, the Salvation Army Angel Tree and helped the art department at the school. In order to support these causes, the club held two dances to raise money. They also sold Christmas items for additional funds.
• China Grove Middle Beta Club, second runner-up
This group held multiple canned food drives for Main Street Mission, collected items for Faithful Friends and items for the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital. They assisted the booster club at school events, cleaned classrooms and provided tokens of appreciation for the teachers. Many of the students are involved in athletics, dance, scouting and other church groups while meeting the Beta’s Club requirement of having a 3.5 GPA.
• North Rowan High School JROTC, winner
This group supported the Veterans Council by placing cemetery flags on Memorial Day and participating in the Veterans hospital program. They worked with Post 107 on their back to school program, Halloween program and Christmas program. They also worked with Rowan Helping Ministries, Rowan County United Way, American Red Cross, NC Transportation Museum, Holiday Caravan Parade and Novant Rowan Medical Center. The students supported North Rowan High by tutoring, mentoring, parking support, cleaning the stadium, campus beautification and many other things. They logged more than 11,600 in community support.
• West Rowan High School JROTC, first runner-up –
This is an active group who assisted with a community blood drive, volunteered at several nursing homes, Rowan Helping Ministries, Adopt-A-Veteran, worked with the US Postal Service on their annual food drive, Adopt-A-Highway, participated in Memorial Day ceremonies and presented the American Flag at more than 20 American Legion Post meetings. This group logged 661 hours in service.
• North Rowan High School Ladies in Pearls, second runner-up
The Ladies in Pearls serve as mentors to more than 20 students at North Rowan, Hanford Dole and Overton elementary schools. These students are identified as having low self-esteem. This group assisted with behavioral intervention, academic expectations and college awareness. They provided workshops and field opportunities to learn more about how to be successful.
Service Above Self awards organizers also recognized Granite Quarry Elementary, Southeast Middle School and East Rowan High School, all of whom had numerous quality nominations. Each school received a check for $500.
Knox Middle School Jazz Band, directed by Sam Kyzer, provided the entertainment prior to the program.
The Wilson Smith family were recognized for their generosity in making the Service Above Self Youth Awards possible. The family has a history of giving in the community and “always demonstrates Service Above Self,” organizers said.