May 2020 - Samantha Schweizer
Samantha earned her Jefferson Award for her work with Gifts for Teens, an organization that creates duffle bags full of basic necessities and gifts for teens in need during the holiday season. Sammy got involved with Gifts for Teens during middle school, hoping to continue her work into high school. Pioneer was one of the few schools without a club/association with the organization, so she founded the Gifts for Teens Club on campus. After the founding of the club, Sammy wanted to create a project that would let struggling teens know that someone their age was thinking of them during the holiday season. In her junior year, she decided to start a letter drive, which had never been done with Gifts for Teens before. She and her club wrote over 1200 letters to be put in the duffle bags, each containing a personalized message for the teens. In doing so, she was able to make a positive impact on the community and gain a better understanding of people in situations other than her own. The personalization each letter gave to its respective bag helped the teenagers see that they weren’t just receiving a bag full of necessary items, and that the senders truly cared for their wellbeing. Through her broadening of the organization and her valuable improvements upon a successful project, Sammy has positively affected the lives of over 1,000 teenagers in her community.