The program was established to honor Petit’s wife and daughters, Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela, who were killed in a 2007 Cheshire home invasion.
“We wanted to carry it on,” he said of his late wife and daughters’ activism.
Petit’s Plainville High School Class of 1974 classmates helped launch the Petit Women Be The Change Community Service Awards.
Jeanette Francini, a classmate, said the goal is to recognize students that volunteer outside of school, like Hayley and Michaela.
“It’s a great tribute to them,” Francini said.
This year, LaBella was chosen for her Fill-A-Race Car food drive.
“I’ve always been an active member in the community,” she said. “We really worked hard.”
With the help of her family, the teen organized a food drive out of her pink race car at the hot air balloon festival in Norton Park last year. She collected more than 200 pounds of food for the Plainville food pantry along with a $100 monetary donation.
LaBella plans to hold another drive at this summer’s festival. She plans to attend the University of New Haven and study forensic science and fire investigation.
St. Jean, was selected for a special fundraiser held last year for her infant cousin, who died only a few days later of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. After learning that six-month-old Elena Ribera, would need a heart transplant, St. Jean organized a fundraiser for the family.
“The event was amazing,” she said.
St. Jean, a longtime dancer, organized Zumba instructors and helped choreograph several numbers. The event raised $3,000. The infant died two days later.
“That was really hard to deal with,” St. Jean said.
Some of the funds were donated to The Children’s Heart Foundation.
This past February, a year after her cousin’s death, the teen organized a similar event and raised $1,500 for the foundation as well as for It’s My Heart New England, a support organization for children with heart conditions.
“We hope to do it every year and continue to support other children in her memory,” St. Jean said.
St. Jean will be attending Central Connecticut State University in the fall for business management.