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The Helping Hands of UPA 13 student volunteers received the 2019 President's Volunteer Service Award for their outstanding acts of giving back

Reporting by Jenna Mi, Reporter.

Photo courtesy of the Corporation for National & Community Service.

AKSHARA KOLLU (11)

Teen Gold Award: 164 hours

Kollu volunteered for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, fundraising $28,000 with her group. She also volunteered as an art teacher at VSF's Friends for Summer, incorporating art with STEM projects.

"This women actually came with her mother, and she said, 'Look Mom; that's the cancer that you have,' and then she thanked [my group] for helping fundraise for it. She talked about her mother . . . and us talking about it made me feel good," Kollu said.

Photo: Kollu poses with her Second Place Award for earning the second most amount of money and her Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Award for participating in the fundraising. Photo courtesy of Akshara Kollu.

ALLISON HUANG (9)

Teen Gold Award: 250 hours

Huang volunteered for the San Jose Public Library in the Homework Club, Reading Buddies, Summer Learning, Free Summer Lunch program, book sales and holiday events.

"It's so satisfying to see [the children's] eyes light up when they finally understand the question or they understand how to get an answer to a question because you were the one who helped them reach that point," Huang said.

Photo: Huang (right) assists with the San Jose Public Library book sale event at the mall. Photo courtesy of Allison Huang.

ANGELA HUNG (10)

Teen Gold Award: 250 hours

Hung volunteered overseas in Taiwan with other Bay Area high schoolers during the summer to teach fourth graders English in person. She continued to teach them online over Zoom from October 2019 to May 2020.

"Getting to meet the [fourth graders] I was teaching and becoming their role model helped me realize how I could be a better person by giving back to my community by helping people that maybe aren't given the same opportunities as other people," Hung said.

Photo: Hung (Second Row, Right) poses with her volunteer group in Taiwan. Photo courtesy of Angela Hung.

ASHLEY NGUYEN (11)

Teen Gold Award: 104 hours

Nguyen volunteered at her local library, cleaning the baby toys the library provided for the children, organizing bookshelves, preparing arts and crafts holiday activities, discarding old CDs and books, helping with book donations and other tasks available.

"I remember talking to one of the staff members, and they said that one of the parents was so thankful that somebody was cleaning the toys because they felt more reassured that their kids weren't going to get sick after playing with the toys. That made me feel happy that I was able to make someone feel more comfortable at the library," Nguyen said.

Photo: Portrait of Nguyen. Photo courtesy of Ashley Nguyen.

ELIZABETH LAU (9)

Teen Gold Award: 114 hours

Lau volunteered at HopeBox, a charity youth orchestra, and played her clarinet to support people in need. She also volunteered at Montalvo Arts Center, working with children in the arts, and at her elementary school library to help the librarian, Karen Hokanson.

"I think volunteering has helped me appreciate the arts more, as well as widen my perspective on the work people put in to make some activities that people might take for granted," Lau said.

Photo: Portrait of Lau. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Lau.

ISHAN MADAN (11)

Teen Gold Award: 120 hours

Madan volunteered at Stem4Kids and Engineering For Kids. He taught elementary school kids in camps focused on engineering and STEM.

"At Engineering For Kids, one of the camps I taught was Minecraft; they were learning redstone and rollercoasters, and so at the end of that week, they demo their roller coasters and theme parks to the class. That was pretty cool to see what they can come up with, see what their creativity and their knowledge of Minecraft," Madan said.

Photo: Portrait of Madan. Photo courtesy of Ishan Madan.

JADON LEUNG (9)

Teen Gold Award: 100 hours

Leung volunteered at RAFT where he helped customers, stocked supplies and packaged materials for teachers. He also worked with Medshare, where he helped categorize medical equipment and ship them. At Honor Flight Bay Area, he wrote letters of encouragement to veterans and military personnel.

"[My favorite moments were] bonding with people I never met before. We have to communicate with other people to make sure we categorize and box the right things. It’s a great way to make friends from all over the Bay Area," Leung said.

Photo: Leung (right) poses with his friend (left) at the RAFT warehouse where he helped stock supplies.

JULIA KHINNO (11)

Teen Gold Award: 263 hours

Khinno volunteered for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and fundraised $28,000 with her group towards the cause as well as became a cabin counselor at a YMCA camp. She also volunteered at ESY, where she worked with disabled kids.

"[My favorite moments were] just getting to hold little kids hands. It's so cute whenever they need to go to the bathroom or want to go outside, they just grab your hands, and that's really cute," Khinno said.

Photo: Khinno supervised one of the children, Jason, who always made sure Khinno was nearby on the playground everyday right before lunch. Photo courtesy of Julia Khinno.

MARTY MARINDA (12)

Young Adult Bronze Award: 110 hours

Marinda volunteered at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospital where he assisted visitors at the information desk and the gift shop.

"My favorite memory would have to be delivering flowers to one of the patients in the hospital. Seeing a patient in their most vulnerable state, I was happy my presence brought a smile onto their face. I learned a simple act of kindness can make someone's day," Marinda said.

Photo: Portrait of Marinda with his Santa Clara Valley Medical Center volunteer uniform. Photo courtesy of Marty Marinda.

NISHCHAY JASUJA (8)

Teen Bronze Award: 50 hours

Jasuja volunteered at his local library's Teens Reach program where he leads the Virtual Reality Program and is a member of the Book Display Committee as well as at UPA's GROW program where he tutored his peers. He also participated in events like creek cleanups and meetings for the Youth Advisory Council.

"I wanted to try to do the most that I could because I had the time that I could put in, which some people don't, and moreover, I had to try because I wasn't just doing things for my own personal benefit. I got to make a real impact on the community," Jasuja said.

Photo: Jasuja poses with his trash bag after a creek cleanup. Photo courtesy of Nishchay Jasuja.

SOPHIA SINGH (12)

Young Adult Bronze Award: 166 hours

Singh volunteered at Guru Nanak Khalsa School to help young children learn about her culture's native language and religion and at Good Samaritan Hospital to aid patients and provide a comfortable environment for them.

"I was actually a student [at Guru Nanak Khalsa School] and I learned about our culture and religion. I wanted to give back to the community because I once learned there, so I decided to become a volunteer teacher to teach kids about our culture, religion, and language," Singh said.

Photo: Sophia Singh's senior portrait. Photo courtesy of Sophia Singh.

THRISHA PRAVEEN (11)

Young Adult Bronze Award: 100 hours

Praveen volunteered for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's high school fundraising program, Students of the Year, and fundraised $28,000 with her group to support blood cancer research and treatment. She planned a Bollywood themed karaoke concert and raised $2000 by selling tickets.

"A lot of people came up to us and mentioned that either they personally or someone that was very close to them was affected by a blood cancer, and obviously we care about all those people that are affected by cancer and the statistics, but it really feels different when you have someone come up to you and thank you for supporting people like them or patients at the time," Praveen said.

Photo: Praveen (right) poses with her group members, Julia Khinno (left) and Akshara Kollu (middle) outside of Hayes Mansion, where the Student of the Year ceremony was held. Photo courtesy of Thrisha Praveen.

Eric Xia (11) won the Teen Gold Award for 100 hours of volunteer work but did not answer Aquila's attempts for contact.