Samita Mohanasundaram of Nashua, N.H.. will receive the award at the 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards ceremony April 5 in New York City
IRVINE, Calif. (March 21, 2007) -- Pure, unselfish giving knows no age. More than half of 15-year-old Samita Mohanasundaram's lifetime has been dedicated to this basic idea. Mohanasundaram's volunteering efforts range from collecting and donating thousands of books to impoverished children in India to organizing a card-signing drive for Florida's hurricane-affected residents. This incredible work earned Mohanasundaram the Third Annual Alexandra Scott Butterfly Award, created by Volvo Cars of North America to honor young heroes who do the extraordinary in the areas of safety, quality of life and environment.
Mohanasundaram will now travel with her family to New York where on April 5 she'll be honored by Volvo and Alex Scott's family at the 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards ceremony, a gala event held at Cipriani's which honors hometown heroes of all ages nationwide. There, Mohanasundaram will receive a $25,000 contribution to the charity of her choice. Alex's parents, Jay and Elizabeth Scott, will also receive a $25,000 contribution for the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Mohanasundaram represents a true "hero of all trades." Her efforts began with collecting and donating more than 12,000 books to places in need around the world.
"Helping others has always been in my heart ever since I was little," Mohanasundaram said. "When I was seven, I visited a small, impoverished village in South India. I was immediately heart-broken by the amount of poverty that people were living in. I went to visit the school that was in the village, and I was surprised to see it's lack of supplies, books, and materials. I promised myself that the next time I visit India, I will do something to help the impoverished people of the village.
"When I got back home, I launched my own book drives and collected school supplies. People from all over New England pitched in to help! I went back to India the very next year to deliver these school supplies. The smiles on the children's faces filled my heart with happiness."
To help her local peers, Mohanasundaram started a column in her local newspaper giving students useful math tips. She also performs classical Indian dance, plays piano and Veena (an Indian classical string instrument) in retirement and nursing homes to help the elderly feel connected to the larger community.
After hearing about the devastation back-to-back hurricanes caused in Florida, Mohanasundaram organized a card-signing drive to send more than 1,000 greeting cards to Florida kids. She also sent thousands of books and school supplies to over 59,000 kids in hurricane-hit schools in Florida. Mohanasundaram made follow-up phone calls and wrote letters to the schools and received letters back from the teachers and students.
Mohanasundaram said she "was inspired by parents who have always taught me to be thankful for what I have, and to reach out and help others. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and other leaders, have taught me that if I think of a goal and work hard to accomplish it, it will come true."
The Butterfly Award is named in honor of Alex Scott, one of the first winning heroes in the Volvo for life Awards and an eight-year-old cancer patient from Wynnewood, Pa. She gained national attention for her efforts to raise money for pediatric cancer research by holding annual lemonade stands. What started as a simple but passionate idea inspired a worldwide grassroots fundraising effort. Sadly, Alex passed away Aug. 1, 2004. Parents Jay and Elizabeth continue promoting Alex's cause and raising money for pediatric cancer research through their foundation, Alex's Lemonade Stand.
The Butterfly Award is part of the Volvo for life Awards, a national search for and celebration of everyday heroes with Volvo providing $1 million in charitable contributions each year in honor of everyday heroes. The 5th Annual Volvo for life Awards ceremony on April 5 at Cipriani's in New York City will be hosted by actor Benjamin Bratt and will feature musical performances by The Tommy Castro Band, The Soundtrack of Our Lives and Kaissa.
For more information on the Volvo for life Awards and to view other heroes' stories, visit www.volvoforlifeawards.com.
Haberman & Associates
Volvo Cars of North America
For photos and more information on the Volvo for life Awards: www.volvocars-pr.com
For information on how Volvo Cars process your personal data in relation to Volvo Cars Global Newsroom click here.