By the time recent graduate Braxton Beers finished his senior year at Alta High School, he had acquired more volunteer hours over the course of his life than he could count.
In his senior year alone, Beers offered thousands of hours of service to the community and his fellow students by fundraising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, helping students with special needs, volunteering at the Utah Food Bank and collecting blankets for the homeless shelter, among other things.
Still, the fact that Beers received the highest recognition in the country for voluntary service came as a surprise when he opened his graduation packet. There, along with his diploma, was the Presidential Volunteer Service Award a commendation created in 2003 by former president George W. Bush to recognize the contributions volunteers make in their communities.
“It’s a pretty rare award,” Beers said. “I’m very honored by it.”
Volunteer requirements for the award range from 100-250 hours for Beers’ age group. Beers surpassed that threshold by thousands of hours, but to him, it’s not about the time he spends helping others it’s about making others’ dreams become a reality.
“Just thinking about it, the hours don’t seem so much like service hours as a goal to try to make those wishes come true,” Beers said.
In addition to helping students with special needs learn science and make arts and crafts as part of a class he took, Beers also helped organize a fundraiser that earned a school record-breaking $30,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
If that weren’t enough, Beers also worked as an Alta student body officer, and participated in the Future Business Leaders of America and DECA organizations. The Utah State University-bound student (on a full scholarship) says his high level of involvement kept him busy, but he learned how to prioritize his time to do it all.
Besides, the time was worth it in the end, Beers says.
“I really like people and I like helping people out,” he says. “Even just talking to them about their problems and just making them happy and seeing them be happy it’s just a need and a want.”
Canyons District has become known as a hive of volunteer activity. Last year, 12,284 members of the community registered to volunteer in CSD schools. So far this academic year, more than 7,000 adults and counting have registered, and gone through the appropriate background checks, to volunteer in CSD schools.
To express appreciation, Canyons District is holding Volunteer Appreciation Week Sept. 15-19. In addition to the activities held at schools to extend thanks to volunteers, the Canyons Board of Education is naming a Canyons District Volunteer of the Year at the by-invitation-only Tuesday, Sept. 9 Apex Awards banquet, and is hosting a Tuesday, Sept. 16 Volunteer Appreciation Reception at the Canyons Support Services Center, 9361 S. 300 East. Also, Superintendent Jim Briscoe has invited PTA/PTSA Presidents and School Community Council Chairpersons to a luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 18.