We know it's been a weird year for students. Between juggling virtual learning, keeping contact…
It starts to become a tad less of a shock hearing about the things The Challenge Program, Inc. (TCP) award winners are doing but when you come into work and hear about a student raising nearly $12,000 off an idea she came up with on her own, your head does spin a little. Then when you find out you get to meet her it is almost as though things can only get better from there.
Samantha Cramer is a recent graduate of Westmont Hilltop High School. She gets good grades, enjoys art, music, and always shows up to school. She walks into the TCP office on a Friday and lights up the room. She has this go-getter attitude that is sort of difficult to find in a world filled with Google searches and apps that allow us to avoid actual human interaction. Her mother joins in on the meeting and before they even sit down it is obvious how proud they both are; and with good reason.
It turns out that for her senior service project, Samantha decided that she wanted to hold a pet food drive for the Humane Society of Cambria County. She presented her idea to the board and when it was approved things took off. There was publicity surrounding the event before it took place on a Saturday in February outside of Petco in the Richland area of Johnstown. Facebook helped her idea get out there and the local newspaper even put out a story so people would know how to support her cause.
She set up with a table outside on a cold February afternoon and was collecting, food, treats, products, or monetary donations for The Humane Society. Cramer even got a sponsor to make T-Shirts which she designed to give to people who donated. Her goal was to get 40 bags of pet food. To her and her mother’s surprise, 45 minutes went by and her goal was reached. With 5 hours and 15 minutes to go there was no telling how much she could raise.
Kris Cramer, Samantha’s mother, commented “It was incredible to see the support from the community.” It is amazing to imagine people taking time out of their weekend on a cold day to go to the pet store to buy food just to walk back out the door and give it away. This is the kind of thing Samantha has the power to create and grow in the community. It is incredible what one person can do within just a few hours out of her weekend.
There was a $10,000 dollar donation given anonymously to the cause by someone who greatly appreciated Samantha’s efforts and hard work. More than 1,000 pounds of pet food, some dog treats, cleaning products, litter, and other pet treats were donated which allowed her to greatly surpass her goal.
TCP was proud to award Samantha with the award and $200 check for her hard work. She was also a finalist in two other TCP award categories; Attendance and Academic Improvement. She will be attending The University Of Pittsburgh At Johnstown in the fall and wants to continue her work with The Humane Society. She is happy to see her money going towards a new cat room they never had funds for before Samantha’s project. “They were all so appreciative and kind. They still wear my T-shirts around and are even giving me a plaque with my name on it in the cat room.”
As an ending remark, Samantha made sure her advice to future students on community service is to “volunteer with something you are passionate about. You need to be able to connect with it and it will be worthwhile.” With that wonderful response, her mom showed the supportive relationship that they have by giving her daughter a high five and saying “great answer.” It appears that Samantha will have one fantastic resume for her future employers to see and that is just rare to find at the age of 18.
Extraordinary students can come from the back corners of the classrooms or the bleachers in gym class. You just need to know to look high and low for incredible students. TCP knows that normally the deeper you look, the more extraordinary they get.