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State Honoree

Jena Piccolo

Rhode Island

Jena Piccolo, 13, of Westerly, R.I., an eighth-grader at Westerly Middle School, supervises and mentors children at summer and fall youth programs conducted by a local church. "I have a friend who goes to the church," she explained. "She invited me to go with her, and I have been helping out ever since." Jena takes charge of a group of 10 children during the church's weeklong Vacation Bible School, teaching Bible lessons, organizing games, working on crafts, and singing songs. In the fall, Jena manages a group of 15 children as they work on the same kinds of activities. She also helps them memorize Bible verses, checks their homework, and serves refreshments. When a young girl approached Jena one day to thank her, "I realized that what I was teaching the kids was really helping them," she said. Jena has told many others about her volunteer experience, and some have joined her programs as a result.