The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, named Colin and Remington Georgia’s top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington D.C. for four days of recognition events.
Colin, a senior at Walton High School, helped start an outreach program at his church that provides essential items to homeless veterans, distributes food to families in need, serves a weekly hot meal, and reconditions bicycles to help the homeless get around. On a cold night when he was a young boy, Colin attended a football game with his father and saw a group of men huddling around a campfire near the stadium. Colin wondered what they were doing, and his father explained that they probably had nowhere else to go. Throughout the game, Colin pondered the lives of these men and afterward insisted that his dad buy hamburgers for them. Years later, when a priest expressed interest in starting an outreach program for homeless veterans, Colin knew he wanted to take a leadership role in “My Brother’s Keeper.”
When the program started in 2011, Colin’s first task was to help fill 100 backpacks with 15 useful items such as clothing, blankets, flashlights and toiletries for the homeless. Since then, his involvement has grown to include buying, sorting, storing and delivering food, serving weekly hot meals, and helping to collect and repair used bicycles for people who have no other form of transportation. Colin also has recruited more than 40 other volunteers to join the effort. Today, “My Brother’s Keeper” distributes 100-150 backpacks before Christmas every year, feeds dozens of homeless veterans and others every week, provides groceries twice a month to more than 60 families, and has delivered over 100 reconditioned bicycles to people in need in his community. Colin said his work with the homeless is both gratifying and difficult. “The most memorable part is when I look in their eyes, hand them food, shake their hand, and wish them well in the coming week,” he said. But “it’s hard to get back in the truck and go home to my comfortable life.”