A Martinez girl recently was recognized for her efforts to improve the lives of those in her community.
Sydney Guion, 8, was named one of 72 Georgia winners of the Kohl's Kids Who Care Scholarship Program for three volunteer efforts she spearheaded.
Last summer, Sydney overheard her father, Kent, commenting on the disappointing Criterion-Reference Competency Test scores.
"We were thinking of reasons why they didn't pass and we were thinking maybe it was lack of school supplies," said the rising Stevens Creek Elementary School fourth-grader.
Sydney and her younger brother, Gavin, 6, opted out of gifts at their combined birthday party last summer. Instead, they asked guests to bring school supplies that were donated to SafeHomes of Augusta, a shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence.
Sydney Hofer, public relations coordinator for Kohl's, said the scholarship program was created eight years ago to reward youths and teens for their selflessness and encourage them to volunteer to transform their communities. Winners are based on their initiative and leadership skills.
"It is truly a volunteer-based scholarship," Hofer said, adding that projects range from small, community-based efforts to larger ones that spark community-wide movements or involve national organizations. "These kids have to exhibit good volunteer skills, not just to benefit themselves, but to benefit others. ... We've got pretty amazing kids and we're proud of them."
Sydney is the only local winner of the 72 winners statewide and more than 2,000 winners nationwide. She earned a $50 Kohl's gift card and a certificate.
Sydney's mother, Jeannine Guion, said she and her husband try to set a good example for their children by volunteering, donating and being active in charity groups.
"It does sink in," Guion said, adding she's very proud of her daughter's actions and attitude. "I wasn't doing that at 9."
For two years, Sydney has been her school's leading fundraiser during the Jump Rope for Heart, raising a total of $405 for the American Heart Association.
"We were collecting money because my grandfather died of heart disease," Sydney said. "And we were thinking that maybe if we help them now, it'll prevent anyone else in my family from having to have a (bad) heart."
Sydney also was active in the family's Christmas sponsorship of the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program, which provides new clothes and toys for children. She picked out all the clothing for the girls, her mother said.
"There was some kids at an adoption center that didn't have things or get stuff for Christmas," Sydney said. "So we decided to give them new clothes, toys, so they could have something for Christmas."
Sydney is a busy girl as a member of the Montclair swim team and taking karate lessons. She also will start Columbia County's elementary school gifted program next year.
But she said she gives and volunteers because she enjoys helping other people.
"Because it is the right thing to do," she said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.