Youth acknowledged for volunteerism


Jeanetta “JJ” McWhorter at her beadery table Photo by Lea Anne McWhorter

17-year-old autistic teen receives award for her volunteer efforts with The Salvation Army. 

By Jenni Ragland

Jeanetta “JJ” McWhorter, a 17-year-old with autism, won the Anchorage Association for Volunteer Administration’s (AAVA) 2012 Youth Community Service Award out of nominations from nearly all of the 40 non-profit AAVA organizations.

Encouraged by her parents, Rob and Lea Anne McWhorter, to serve in the community as a means to help develop both social and practical skills, McWhorter first volunteered as a young teen to help at The Salvation Army’s annual July 4 pancake breakfast fundraiser.

When McWhorter discovered she enjoyed making beaded earrings, she began donating them to The Salvation Army. So far, she has donated more than 3,000 pairs, which were shared with the McKinnell House Family Shelter, Serendipity Adult Day Services, Booth Memorial and Clitheroe Center. The Older Alaskans Program uses the earrings for Bingo prizes and the Adult Rehabilitation Program sells them in its family stores.

Last summer, McWhorter helped with data entry projects and packed food bags for the Army’s Family Services program, faithfully volunteering four days a week for a total of nearly 250 hours during her summer vacation.

“I’m proud to be helping others,” McWhorter said.

Her parents, sister Laura, teachers and friends at The Salvation Army cheered for McWhorter as she received the award, celebrating her dedication to serving others.

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