Spirited sixth-grader wins Prudential Spirit of Community Award
Mar 06, 2019 11:36AM
● By Jet Burnham
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Gabbie Lundberg, a sixth-grader at North Star Academy in Bluffdale, was chosen as one of two State Honorees of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Representatives from the national awards program, which recognizes students in grades 5–12 for their community service, were impressed by Gabbie’s donation to refugees in Utah.
Last summer, Gabbie organized Camp Awesome in her basement to entertain children in her neighborhood during summer break. Camp Awesome raised almost $200, which Gabbie donated to a local organization that helps refugee families.
Gabbie said she was inspired by the donations she’d seen her mom collecting for refugee families and believed that even at a young age she could make a difference, too.
“I was 11 when I had this thought in my head,” said Gabbie, who woke in the middle of the night with the idea for the day camp. “I just thought it, I made a flier the next day, passed it out, and then the next week I was having Camp Awesome.”
A total of 38 children, ages 4 to 7, attended Camp Awesome, participating in the games, songs and dance parties Gabbie organized.
“It was just so fun to hang out with the kids—I love nurturing and caring for kids,” said the now 12 year old.
Gabbie felt it was important to have a special recognition for each child who attended.
“I had to spend time with each child, individually, talking and laughing and playing with them and finding out what their unique qualities were,” she said. She created personalized certificates and awarded plastic medals to each child to recognize one of their characteristics or skills.
She plans to hold Camp Awesome again this summer.
Gabbie is the daughter of Derek and Adrienne Lundberg, of South Jordan. They were not surprised that Gabbie orchestrated such a big project.
“I feel like my job as her mom is to make sure I don’t get in her way because she is always trying to do these awesome things,” said Adrienne Lundberg. “I just want to support her. She loves to help—she has that nature. She takes care of everyone.”
Gabbie’s extended family runs a nonprofit organization, Bridges of Love, in Romania, and the practice of serving others is part of their family culture, said Lundberg. She said Gabbie has a big heart and feels strongly about issues such as helping refugees. When Gabbie heard that not all states would accept them, she was shocked.
“She actually wrote a letter to the governor of Kansas saying she felt like he should accept refugees because that would be the right thing to do,” said Lundberg.
Lisa Hardy, school counselor at Northstar Academy in Bluffdale, which emphasizes community service within its curriculum, encouraged students to apply for the Prudential award.
“We definitely need to highlight these kids that are go-getters and do what needs to be done without any fanfare,” said Hardy, who works with Gabbie in the school’s Hope Squad.
“She’s just a go-getter and just figures out what needs to be done and goes and does it. She is always looking for volunteer opportunities and is willing to help out wherever we need.”
Gabbie will attend the Prudential awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., this May, where 102 state honorees—one middle school and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia—will each receive $1,000 and a silver medallion.
Ten finalists will be chosen as America’s top youth volunteers of 2019 and will receive $5,000, a gold medallion, a trophy for their school and a donation of $5,000 to a charity of the student’s choice.
The other state honoree from Utah, Armani McFarland, a sophomore at Weber High School, has conducted 27 collection and fundraising drives in the past seven years to benefit low-income families.
An additional 234 students nationwide were honored as Distinguished Finalists, including four from Utah: Raymond Briener, Kanab; Noah Dansie, Provo; Caleb O’Neill, North Ogden; McCall Tebbs, Panguitch.
More than 450 other applicants were awarded Certificates of Excellence.