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State Honoree

Ryan Olson

Virginia

devised and implemented “Hams for the Holidays,” a semiannual ham collection drive for the poor in Giles County. Ryan, whose family has always donated food to a needy family at Thanksgiving, has become very aware of just how hungry some families can be. “I decided I wanted to help more than one family and make a bigger difference,” said Ryan. “But I knew I couldn’t do it alone.” So Ryan decided to involve all the Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops in his entire county. He met with the troops to discuss the project, bringing sign-up sheets with him. The plan was for each Boy Scout to raise enough money to purchase and donate one ham at Thanksgiving, and each Girl Scout to do the same at Christmas. In addition to mowing lawns, raking leaves, and painting fences to earn the money to buy his ham, Ryan collected all the hams, wrote thank-you letters to all the scouts, and sent photos to local newspapers. In the end, Ryan helped provide 108 hams to the local community service agency – 58 more than his original goal. “Young people need to know that there are hungry people everywhere in the United States, even in their own communities,” said Ryan.