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State Honoree

Dev SenGupta

Washington

Dev SenGupta, 18, of Kentridge High School in Kent, Washington, designed and implemented a massive toy and book drive that yielded 5,000 items to benefit homeless children at two shelters in the Seattle area. For two years, Dev organized blanket drives to benefit the homeless, at which time he learned how young children suffer greatly as they move from shelter to shelter and are unable to take their favorite toys along. "A toy can sometimes soften the many hardships a homeless child must face," Dev said. "The plight of these children goes unnoticed as their parents struggle daily to meet their basic needs." Determined to make a difference for these children, Dev took his toy drive campaign to his school advisor to enlist support. He then persuaded 19 other area schools to serve as donation drop-off sites, and then approached the community by sending press releases to local papers and placing public service announcements with area television stations. Dev's original goal was to collect a few hundred items, but the response was so overwhelming that he began to run out of space to store the 5,000 donated items. "The surprise and joy that lined the faces of the children and their caretakers as we filled the closets until the seams burst was a sight I will never forget," said Dev.