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Each year, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes recognizes 25 young people – ten finalists and fifteen winners – who have made a significant positive influence on people and our planet. This year’s pool of finalists included Paige Alenick, 19, for the work of her organization, Donate a Toothbrush.
Alenick, of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, founded Donate a Toothbrush three years ago after contacting the non-profit World Dental Relief organization to ask if children in third-world countries needed toothbrushes. After discovering there was a huge need, she set up a website and began a nationwide letter-writing campaign, asking dentists for toothbrushes. She also attended dental conventions to ask for donations. Since then, she has collected over 106,000 toothbrushes, and is now the leading source of toothbrushes for World Dental Relief.
“I’ve learned that I can make a real significant difference in the lives of others,” said Alenick. “It just takes simple kindness, like donating a toothbrush.”
In addition, in the past year, she has met with executives from several major corporations to obtain more pledges for huge quantities of toothbrushes, including hundreds of thousands to supply a new dental school in Ethiopia.
The Barron prize was founded in 2001 by author T.A. Barron, and was named for his mother, Gloria Barron. The honorees represent a wide range of service projects, with focuses on helping communities and people, as well as protecting the environment.
“Nothing is more inspiring than stories about heroic people who have truly made a difference to the world,” said Barron. “And we need our heroes more than ever. This is the purpose of the Gloria Barron Prize: to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their stories will inspire others.
This year’s honorees were chosen from a pool of nearly four hundred applicants nationwide.