Alexina Federhen, 18, of Bennington, Vt., a senior at Mount Anthony Union High School, makes jewelry to raise money for endangered species, collects stuffed animals for children and senior citizens, campaigns against bullying, and participates in many other volunteer activities. As a very young child, Alexina began helping her mother foster abused, sick and feral cats as well as orphaned birds. "I have always had a passionate commitment to protecting animals, not only abused or homeless domestic pets, but also endangered species," said Alexina. "I find the act of helping others, furry, feathered or human, very gratifying."
To advance her interest in protecting animals, Alexina began making custom jewelry with her mother, selling necklaces, earrings and bracelets at craft fairs, arts cooperatives and on eBay. The proceeds are donated to organizations that work to preserve the habitat of endangered species such as the Canadian Lynx and the Luna moth. Alexina also collects stuffed animals from classmates, local families and thrift stores, and delivers them to children in foster care, homeless shelters, hospitals and disaster zones; and to nursing homes and memory care centers. In addition, Alexina draws upon her own experience as a victim of bullying to speak out against this abusive behavior. She created a PowerPoint presentation to alert adults to the signs and impact of bullying and to offer strategies for intervention, and is establishing forums for students to discuss the issue.