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Our Kids Who Give winners are simply amazing. Thanks to everyone who entered. Special congratulations to Mary Grace Henry, voted the 2012 Grand Prize Winner in a public vote in February 2013.

Grand Prize Winner

Mary Grace Henry – Reverse the Course

16, Harrison, NY

At age 12, Mary Grace Henry started Reverse the Course, a nonprofit that uses money raised from selling handmade hair accessories to fund the education of girls in Third World countries. Today, of the 130 million children worldwide who are not enrolled in school, 70 percent are girls. To address this crisis and help young girls attend secondary school, Reverse the Course has paid for a total of 37 years of tuition for 18 girls in Uganda, Kenya, Haiti and Paraguay. The costs of their textbooks, uniforms and boarding were also covered. Mary Grace hopes to continue to provide girls with access to education, with specific plans to help those in the Maasai community.

2012 Finalists

Rohan Chandra – Earthquake Preparedness for Seniors

Fremont, CA

When Rohan Chandra realized the senior citizen community would be especially vulnerable if an earthquake struck in his area, he created the Earthquake Preparedness for Seniors (EPS) project. With the help of bi-lingual seniors, he developed a multi-lingual safety instruction guide available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Hindi, Farsi and Tagalog – the most common languages used in the San Francisco Bay area. Rohan has raised more than $10,000 for the cause, distributed more than 1,000 copies of the guide and assembled and distributed 250 earthquake kits to local seniors.

Neha Gupta – Empower Orphans

Yardley, PA

Inspired by her experience as a volunteer at an orphanage in India, Neha Gupta founded Empower Orphans, a nonprofit organization that provides education and healthcare to orphaned and disadvantaged children around the world. Neha has raised more than $750,000, which was used to open five libraries, set up three computer labs and a sewing center. Neha also organized an eye and dental clinic to treat 360 children, donated 60 van loads of furniture to Pennsylvania families in need and installed a water well and purification system that gave 20,000 villagers access to safe drinking water.

Yash Gupta – Sight Learning

16, Irvine, CA

When Yash Gupta had to spend a week at school without his eyeglasses, he realized how hard it is to learn without good vision. He soon learned that more than 300 million people around the world need eyeglasses yet can’t afford them. So Yash started Sight Learning to help change all that. By collecting used eyeglasses which otherwise may be discarded Sight Learning has donated more than $150,000 worth of glasses and organized several eye clinics to treat thousands of patients in need.

Nicholas Lowinger – Gotta Have Sole Foundation

Cranston, RI

Nicholas Lowinger began volunteering at local homeless shelters when he was six years old. He noticed that many children lacked proper footwear and donated his own shoes when he outgrew them, but knew he wanted to do more. Nicholas started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation, which gives new shoes to children in homeless shelters in several states. Nicholas has personally delivered and shipped shoes to more than 4,800 of these children, including 100 pairs for the children of 9/11 first responders at a commemorative event last year.

Jordyn Schara – Foundation HOPE

North Freedom, WI

As a 14-year-old, Jordyn Schara started Foundation HOPE (Helping Our Peers Excel). This nonprofit organization launched Project READ (Reading Equipment for America’s Defenders), in which Jordyn organized her community to send more than 1,800 pounds of reading material to troops overseas. Jordyn also lead the Wisconsin Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal (WI P2D2) project, which educated the public about prescription drug abuse and how to properly dispose of unwanted drugs through collection programs and 24/7 drug disposal boxes. Comics 4 Change (C4C), Jordyn’s third community service project, established comic book libraries in her school district to engage struggling young readers so they develop the critical skills necessary to read more challenging works.

Sejal Vallabh – Tennis SERVES

Newton, MA

Sejal Vallabh first learned about teaching tennis to the visually impaired during an internship in Japan. Once she returned, Sejal founded Tennis Serves, a student-run non-profit that now has three chapters in the U.S. Through this program, sighted high school and college volunteers teach tennis at blind schools across the country with adapted equipment and comprehensive curriculum developed in partnership with the Japanese Blind Tennis federation.

Max Wallack – Puzzles to Remember

16, Natick, MA

From caring for his great-grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer’s, Max Wallack learned that puzzles help calm patients afflicted with this debilitating disease, so he founded Puzzles to Remember. Recognizing a need for more simple puzzles with large pieces and tranquil, memory-provoking images, Max collaborated with Springbok Puzzles to create the Puzzles to Remember® line. His organization has distributed more than 18,000 puzzles to 1,600 Alzheimer’s facilities worldwide. Now a sophomore at Boston University, Max also volunteers as a research intern in the Molecular Psychiatry and Aging Laboratory at Boston University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

Christopher Yao – Kids Change the World

Jericho, NY

Christopher Yao was determined to help children with cleft palates after undergoing treatment for his under-jaw bite in middle school. The Smile Train Read-A-Thon, which he started in 2007, has funded sixty cleft palate surgeries. Christopher also founded Kids Change the World (KCW), which is a non-profit organization that provides young people with the tools they need to change the lives of other children around the globe. KCW has more than 19,000 volunteers and supporters across 34 countries.

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