HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Surrounded by local educators, Hilton Head Island Mayor Drew Laughlin announced his new initiative, the Mayor's Youth Volunteer Service Award, honoring middle and high school students who give back.
"Our young people are so important and to give them the right experiences early is important. It makes a big impact the younger they are. A lot of them are already doing a lot of good in the community and this is a way of them recognition, it's a way of encouraging others to join in and help," said Laughlin.
Laughlin says students will have to complete 50 hours of community service within a year's time to receive the award. Those who do will be honored at a special award ceremony. Leslie Richardson also helped to develop the program.
"They're going to learn about all the great organizations. They are going to see where the time they spent made an impact on their community," stated Richardson.
Richardson says the organizations will win as well. It is an initiative that local educators support.
"This will be a great way for our community to recognize the great things our kids are doing and all the positive things they are giving back," said Sandra Jenson, Hilton Head Island High School Assistant Principal.
Many students at Hilton Head High School are already taking an active role. The Interact Club is gearing up for Red Ribbon Week. Each month they give their time and talents in the community.
"Our community gives so much to our school and everything and it's great to give something back especially when we help organizations with Relay for Life or Gift of Life," said Heather O'Keeffe, Hilton Head High School student.
The Interact Club has about 100 active members and donates roughly 1,200 hours a year.
"At the end of each event, I feel like I'm happy with myself because I helped someone else," said Karimen Ambrocio, Hilton Head High School student.
The students are glad to see that the mayor is supporting their efforts.
"I think that's really great because people get recognized for grades and other things, but most people don't focus on community service," said Federico Moreno, Hilton Head High School student.