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State Honoree

Alana Merrill

Kentucky

Alana Merrill, 18, of Russell Springs, Ky., a senior at Russell County High School, created a karaoke sing-along program, “Sing a Song for Charity,” which raised more than $1,000 to provide food, clothing and toys for needy families. A long-time volunteer, Alana was trying to think of a project after the September 11 terrorist attacks that both students and teachers could undertake to help others, when she learned that her school’s Youth Services Center had just purchased a karaoke machine for youth retreats. “A karaoke show would be perfect,” she decided. “Students and teachers could perform, and everyone would pay a small fee of a dollar to watch the show.” Alana obtained approval to organize the event, not just at her school, but at local middle and elementary schools, too. She then arranged for the equipment, recruited performers and judges, selected songs, secured prizes, and promoted the shows. Alana also negotiated large discounts from local merchants in order to maximize the number of people who could benefit from her proceeds. “I strongly believe that when we become actively involved with other’s lives, we become more responsible and respectful citizens,” said Alana.