ELGIN, OK (KSWO) - A student from Elgin has been recognized as one of the top youth volunteers in the entire state of Oklahoma by receiving the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
From collecting items for the food bank to donating winter clothes for families in need, Charles Carter said he has been volunteering for as long as he can remember. Back in August a teacher urged him to enter a contest for those who do volunteer work, so he wrote an essay detailing what he does for the community, but he never expected to hear anything after that.
Charles said when he first heard the news he won, he couldn't believe it.
"I feel very grateful that the people who chose me thought of me and looked at my writing like this is who we're going to pick. Out of everyone else I can't believe they picked me because I'm just a random kid out of Elgin, Oklahoma," Charles said.
Charles said he spends hours of his time volunteering simply because it's better than just sitting at home.
"I just could be doing something better with my time. Just sitting at home doing homework, eating food, that's not my cup of tea. I like to go outside and help people," Charles said.
Over the last few years, that's exactly what Charles has done. He volunteers with the Elgin chapter of AMBUCS, helping to assemble tricycles that make it easier for those with disabilities to get around. He was in charge of a project that collected more than 10,000 canned food items for the food bank and he organized a winter clothes drive that brought in more than 200 pieces of clothing. He said all of this work is done simply to help make Elgin a better place.
"I think it's a job that isn't going to get done by one person. It needs to have a whole organization following. I'm just a small part of the community," Charles said.
As his reward for that community service, Charles and his family will be treated to an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C.
"I'm going to go to all the monuments, the Smithsonian, the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial," Charles said.
Charles said his family inspired him to get involved in the community, so he's excited they will be going along on his journey to our nation's capital.
"This is going to be my first experience that I get to provide for my family, that I get to do something for my family and my family doesn't have to cover me," Charles said.
Besides the trip to Washington D.C., Charles also received $1,000, which he plans to put in his college fund. He's also up for a much bigger award. While in D.C., 10 students out of the 100 chosen will be selected as America's top youth volunteers. The reward for that would be $5,000 for themselves and another $5,000 dollars for a charity of their choice.