PLAINVILLE — Four high school students recently received the Petit Family Foundation’s annual Be the Change Awards.
"I think they'll be a good example for other students, they'll be a good example for their family and friends and their own kids later in life,” foundation president and state Rep. William Petit said. "The volunteering begets volunteering, so you have parents that volunteer, kids start to volunteer… you teach by doing.”
Three Plainville High School students, Abigail Leander, Karla Juarez and Cheyenne Emmendorfer, and Manavi Jain, a Cheshire High School student, were each recognized. The students were presented with a scholarship of approximately $1,000 and $250 to donate to a charity of their choice.
"Most high schools, there's lots of awards for athletes… and there's national honor society and there's a lot of academic awards and things, but not a lot of recognition of community service,” Petit said. He said each of the students represent "what we like to see in people generally and certainly in our young people.”
Jain made blessing bags filled with hygiene items for the homeless and decided to donate $500 of her award to the American Cancer Society.
“It was a pleasure being recognized...I didn’t know I could reach this far,” she said.
Jain also said it “makes us feel so good that we were able to make a change in other people’s lives.”
Her father, Bharat Jain, said he’s “so happy my daughter could do this type of charity (work).”
“When a child’s hard work is recognized...it’s really a huge honor for a parent,” Bharat Jain said.
Leander was recognized for her volunteer work for Camp Promise, a camp in Andover for adults and children with muscular dystrophy. She spent part of her time photographing the campers, creating a yearbook for them. She opted to donate her $250 to Camp Promise.
Juarez volunteered at Bristol Hospital, sitting with patients and helping nurses. She decided to donate to Doctors Without Borders, while Emmendorfer volunteered as an assistant coach at the Middle School of Plainville and Apple Rehabilitation, a physical therapy clinic.
The Petit family foundation was started to honor the memories of Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela Petit, who were killed during a home invasion in Chehsire in 2007.