Get the latest delivered to your inbox
Privacy Policy

Now Reading

HandsOn Network and Scholastic Media Announce Winners of Second Annual Contest to Support Civic Engagement

Arizona Teenager Received $25,000 Grand Prize

HandsOn Network and Scholastic Media Announce Winners of Second Annual Contest to Support Civic Engagement

Arizona Teenager Received $25,000 Grand Prize

Published 10-19-10

Submitted by Points of Light

Sixteen-year-old student Jennifer O'Neal’s idea to create a hospital classroom for young cancer patients at Diamond Children's at University Medical Center in Tucson has been awarded the $25,000 grand prize grant from Scholastic Media's BE BIG Fund. The Arizona student will see her ambitious idea come to life with the support of Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona, an affiliate of HandsOn Network, the largest volunteer network in the nation. In addition, ten First Prize winners and 19 Second Place winners will be awarded grants to help implement their BE BIG ideas to improve their communities with the help of HandsOn Network affiliates across the country.

The national "BE BIG in Your Community Contest" is a signature part of Scholastic's ongoing Clifford The Big Red Dog BE BIG! Campaign sponsored by American Family Insurance. The contest invites participants to submit an idea that demonstrates Clifford's Big Ideas (Share, Help Others, Be Kind, Be Responsible, Play Fair, Be a Good Friend, Believe in Yourself, Have Respect, Work Together and Be Truthful) for a chance to win a community grant to be used to implement the winning proposals. Since its inception, the contest has brought in over 1,500 entries from more than 40,000 children, parents, teachers and community leaders ranging in age from 2 to 70. Scholastic Media is a division of Scholastic Inc., a global children's publishing, education and media company.

"The BE BIG program continues to inspire and equip children and families to adopt a tradition of service," said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute and co-founder of HandsOn Network. "We are extremely pleased to partner with Scholastic Media in providing a way for a new generation, exemplified by Jennifer and the other award-winners, to make its mark on the world and realize its power to make a difference."

Jennifer was inspired to apply for a BE BIG grant after her sister was hospitalized at the University Medical Center in Tucson in 2009. During her sister's stay, O'Neal learned that children face substantial challenges keeping up with their school work while being treated, and that falling behind in school is one of many young patients' chief concerns. With help from two members of Girl Scout Troop 484, Sharon Fass and Lauren Evans, Jennifer developed the idea to create a study room for these young patients.

"Jennifer and her team drew from personal inspiration to develop a BIG idea that will meet the needs of their community for years to come," said Deborah Forte, President of Scholastic Media and Executive Vice President of Scholastic Inc. "Clifford's BIG Ideas are inspiring people of all ages to embrace civic engagement; Scholastic is delighted that so many children and families are committing to improve the lives of others in innovative ways, while taking pride in service to their communities."

The ten additional First Place prize winners will each be awarded a $2,500 community grant. Nineteen Second Place prize winning ideas - one from each state in American Family Insurance's 19-state business territory - also will receive grants totaling $25,000. The ten First Place prize winners are:

  • Will Lourcey, age 7, and his team from Fort Worth, TX, will work with Volunteer Center of Texas to organize local area little league baseball players against hunger in the "Hits Against Hunger" project.

  • Erika Ferguson, age 17, of Northfield, NJ, will work with United Way of Atlantic County’s Volunteer Center on her BIG Idea for the "ACRM Farm Project" to grow and harvest food for the poor.

  • Mackenzie Bearup, age 17, of Alpharetta, GA, will work with HandsOn Atlanta to expand the reach of her "Shelter Libraries" book donation initiative.

  • Lindsay Hyde, age 28, and her team from Miami, FL, will work with HandsOn Miami to double the size of the "Strong Women, Strong Girls" volunteer mentor program in her community.

  • Leigh Pruden, age 17 of Houston, TX, will work with Volunteer Houston to keep a refugee education initiative thriving through a high school community service program.

  • Milan Patel, age 15, of Clearwater, FL, will work with HandsOn Tampa to expand the "Teen Music Hospice Program" that plays bedside music for patients in his community.

  • Jenny Chen, age 19, of North Potomac, MD, will expand her "Connect Through Comics" mentor program into the Washington, D.C. community with DC Cares.

  • Sandy Warrick, age 55, and her kindergarten students in Albuquerque, NM, will work with generationOn to support the "Kids Babyfood Drive" initiative for a local food bank.

  • Shelley Sellwood-Davis, age 24, and her team from Lexington, KY,, will work with United Way of the Bluegrass Volunteer Center to expand the "Build-A-Bed" initiative to include 2000 volunteers in more communities.

  • Rohan Chandra, age 15, of Fremont, CA, will work with generationOn to start his "Earthquake Kits/Emergency Preparedness" project for seniors in his community.

The 11 top-winning BIG Ideas were selected by a panel of judges based on four criteria - feasibility, creativity, sustainability and impact. A complete list of finalists, and profiles about their BIG ideas, can be found at

About HandsOn Network
HandsOn Network, the volunteer-focused arm of Points of Light Institute, is the largest volunteer network in the nation and includes 250 HandsOn Action Centers in 16 countries. HandsOn includes a powerful network of more than 70,000 corporate, faith and nonprofit organizations that are answering the call to serve and creating meaningful change in their communities. Annually, the network delivers approximately 30 million hours of volunteer service valued at $626 million. For more information, please visit

About Scholastic
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children's media. Scholastic creates quality books, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The Company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based book clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, on-air, and online at

Points of Light Logo

Points of Light

Points of Light

Points of Light is a global nonprofit organization that inspires, equips and mobilizes millions of people to take action that changes the world. We envision a world in which every individual discovers the power to make a difference, creating healthy communities in vibrant, participatory societies. Through 145 affiliates across 39 countries, and in partnership with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages 3.7 million volunteers in 16.7 million hours of service each year, contributing $498.7 million of value in people power into communities around the world. We bring the power of people to bear where it’s needed most. To learn more about Points of Light visit

Partnering with Points of Light means you’ll have the expertise and support you need to mobilize your colleagues and create community impact using all aspects of civic engagement. We've helped companies with a variety of needs including implementing large-scale employee volunteer events, tackling your larger social impact vision, expanding how you engage communities and consumers, infusing new ideas to your annual employee engagement programs, connecting with peers to bring the latest and greatest ideas on impact measurement, and getting company leadership investment and buy-in. Learn more today.

More from Points of Light

Join today and get the latest delivered to your inbox