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State Honoree

Cenna Peterson-Robertson

Anchorage, Alaska

Cenna Peterson-Robertson, 10, of Anchorage, Alaska, a fifth-grader at Turnagain Elementary School, assembled more than 500 gift bags to cheer up her neighborhood’s senior citizens and others who have to stay home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are feeling the effects of isolation. Cenna’s grandmother, a chaplain for the local police department, started the project to help brighten the lives of older people isolating at home. As soon as Cenna heard about the gift bags, she pitched in to expand the initiative. “I like to help those in need,” said Cenna. “Many people are afraid because of the virus. I want them to feel not alone.”

To make her bags, Cenna shops for snacks, treats, and games she thinks will interest the recipients. She then adds a personal note to each bag. “So many people are sad and lonely,” said Cenna. “I want them to know someone cares and that they are not facing this pandemic alone. I want to put a smile on their face.”