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State Honoree

Preston Horton

Zachary, Louisiana

Preston Horton, 11, of Zachary, Louisiana, a sixth-grader at Copper Mill Elementary School, formed a music group called “Joyful Melodies” to perform and brighten the days of senior citizens in his community. Preston’s inspiration was his 89-year-old grandfather, who was often lonely after the death of his wife. “When I realized that there were so many other elderly persons just like him, my heart was saddened,” said Preston. He discovered through research that many elderly people reported experiencing loneliness, so he began brainstorming ways to help. Since he was musically talented, Preston decided to sing joyful songs and play music for seniors throughout the community to ease their loneliness.

He began performing with his siblings, but soon recruited more volunteer musicians from his church. They scheduled performances twice a month, being careful to social-distance after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They also raised money to provide their audiences with gift baskets filled with treats. Over the past two years, Preston and his fellow musicians have sung for hundreds of senior citizens, and raised more than $1,000 to provide them with gift baskets. Preston also has bagged food at a local food bank, participated in a canned-food drive for the food bank, and volunteered as a musician at his church. “I truly believe we are making a difference in the lives of those who are hurting,” he said.