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Thirteen-year-old Olivia Ohlson was nominated for, and received, the George H.W. Bush Daily Point of Light Award from former President George H.W. Bush’s foundation, Points of Light, for her extensive volunteer service within the Evanston/Skokie community.
The eighth-grade Haven Middle School student joins the ranks of hundreds of honorees to receive the award, which was created in 1990 by former President George H.W. Bush to commend individuals for making a difference in the lives of others in their communities.
Olivia received her award in July and was interviewed by Points of Light in early August regarding her community volunteer experiences and the impact that the award has created for her.
“We are proud of all of the hard work that Olivia has accomplished in helping the District 65 community,” said Dr. Devon Horton, Superintendent of District 65. “Olivia’s actions are what we hope every District 65 student aspires toward; actions that create a stronger, more empathetic, and connected community for all.”
Olivia’s volunteer experience has deep roots in her community. From her support with assisting senior citizens, low-income families who required additional hygiene supplies, and hospital patients, to the recorded tutoring services she has offered to students in District 65, Olivia’s goal is clear: she merely wants to help others.
“My mom always instilled in me that need to help others, and my dad as well,” said Olivia. “They did service projects when they were older. They did all sorts of things to help the community, and I just wanted to be a part of that too.”
Olivia has done her part to continue this stride of giving by becoming an active member of several nonprofit organizations and has even started her own nonprofit system. Her work with The Honeycomb Project, a Chicago nonprofit organization, for example, has allowed her to tackle a number of community-based tasks, including clothing and food donations.
Olivia also yields experience in starting her own nonprofit efforts. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, she created Hygiene Kits for those Evanston residents most deeply impacted. “For my biggest project, I’m running Hygiene Kits for Evanston’s Underserved,” she said. “We take in-kind donations and cash donations, and then with the cash we go to the store and buy all the hygiene products that are necessary to make the kits, and then I make the kits myself.”
The need instilled in Olivia Ohlson to help others is not exclusive only to her local neighborhood or community, but to her fellow classmates and peers as well. As schools across District 65 transitioned to remote learning in March, she viewed this situation as an opportunity to help those students who may need additional academic support in lieu of in-person instruction by starting her own YouTube channel, which offers math and reading tutoring videos.
“It’s just like five-minute videos that will give them a little bit of a nudge-up for the next school year,” she said.
“I think I would like people to learn that you are never too young to help people,” Olivia said. “You’re never too old to help people. You’re never too inexperienced.”
More about Olivia Ohlson’s Points of Light award, as well as her community involvement can be found at https://www.pointsoflight.org/