Florence teen one of Alabama's Top Youth Volunteers - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Florence teen one of Alabama's Top Youth Volunteers

FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -

A 13-year-old Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama member is helping her community in a big way. 

Katherine Huggins, 13, of Florence is an eighth-grader at Wilson High School. She delivered 25 tote bags filled with small stuffed animals to every volunteer fire department in her county so that firefighters could give them to children suffering the effects of fire, car accidents and domestic upheaval.

Huggins is one of Alabama’s top two state honorees of 2018 for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, the nation’s largest youth volunteer awards program honoring students in grades 5-12 for outstanding volunteer service.

Last year, Huggins and a friend came up with the idea of collecting and donating new and gently-used stuffed toys for all of their county’s volunteer fire departments to deliver.

“I knew the city had programs, but the county did not,” said Katherine. “I felt it was important that the kids in the county have a comfort item,” said Katherine Huggins, Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama member.

Huggins met with fire officials to get everyone on board and then she made flyers and posted them around town to get stuffed animal donations. She got help from her friends and family to collect the animals, which she washed, sorted, and packed into 25 totes labeled “Tender Hearts.”

The totes were delivered to fire stations throughout the county so that officials responding to emergencies would have a furry friend to leave behind with a frightened child.

The project has since led Huggins to other volunteer opportunities, including making a fire safety poster, donating stuffed toys to a library, and supervising activities for young children. 

The other state honoree is 18-year-old Gratson Phillips of Gardendale. 

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