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State Honoree

Meghan McGinty

New York

founded and directs an annual Thanksgiving food drive at her high school to benefit Common Ground Community, a non-profit developer of housing for the homeless. Inspired by the volunteer spirit of both her father and Common Ground director Rosanne Haggerty, Meghan decided to help provide and serve a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner for more than 650 formerly homeless people who’d found housing and a new start on life, thanks to the efforts of Common Ground Community. After getting the approval of her school’s administrators, Meghan designed an advertising campaign, spoke at a parents association meeting, and visited every sports team and club at the school to ask for support. The project was a great success. For three nights, student volunteers served food, replenished drinks and visited with the residents. Students also delivered homebound meals to those unable to attend the formal dinner. Meghan has since expanded her volunteer efforts to include a book collection drive for a library at the Prince George Hotel, another Common Ground housing project. Meghan’s most rewarding moment came while serving dinner the first year. An elderly woman kept calling her “Susan,” speaking of old times and shared memories. “I finally realized that Susan was her daughter who was no longer alive,” Meghan said. “It was clear that for that one evening she was home again, enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal with her daughter.”