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State Honoree

Jessica Robison

Connecticut

Jessica Robison, 12, of Middlefield, Conn., a sixth-grader at Memorial Middle School, initiated an annual penny drive to buy toiletries and other gift items for children who are removed from their homes and placed in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services. Jessica got the idea from a local radio station that had conducted a similar collection the previous year. After deciding on a name for her program, “Pennies with a Purpose,” Jessica developed a logo with the help of her father and assembled containers for local stores to display. For the past five years, she has collected pennies from January to November, and then spends the month of December purchasing and assembling the gift bags. “You can’t do a project like this without putting your heart to it,” said Jessica. “I also learned how generous the community I live in is.”