Gore selected as one of Oklahoma’s Top Youth Volunteers
Savannah Gabrielle Gore, 17, of Muldrow, was one of two students named Oklahoma's top youth volunteers of 2021 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, America’s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer service.
As State Honoree, Gore will receive a $2,500 scholarship, a silver medallion and an invitation to the program’s virtual national recognition celebration in April, where 10 of the 102 State Honorees will be named America’s top youth volunteers of the year. Those 10 National Honorees will earn an additional $5,000 scholarship, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their nominating organization and a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice.
Gore, a senior at Muldrow High School, has raised almost $50,000 for veterans’ causes over the past nine years by singing in more than 200 benefit concerts, selling CDs of her Christmas songs, and producing an annual holiday musical. Both of her grandfathers and several uncles served in the military, and one of her earliest memories is of singing to veterans.
“I understood that their service changed their personality in deep and meaningful ways,” she said. “I saw that they and their fellow veterans often retreated socially, spending time lost in thought and memories.”
But when Gore would start singing, they would clap and sing along.
“I knew I had a talent that I could use for good,” she said, so she created a foundation called “Healing Heroes’ Hearts.”
At first, she said running her foundation was easy: She would call a local nursing home or VFW, schedule a date to sing, practice her songs, and then show up to perform. But the work increased as her desire to make an impact grew.
She began recruiting volunteers to distribute fliers promoting her shows, sell tickets, design stage sets, and sometimes, even act in her musicals. She also started a website to sell T-shirts and her CDs to benefit veterans and raise awareness of the trauma they often face after returning from active duty.
Since she began, Gore has raised funds to place wreaths on veterans’ gravestones, renovate a local veterans’ theatre, expand a crowded veterans’ cemetery, and purchase new computer monitors, furniture and televisions for a non-profit that helps veterans adjust to civilian life. She estimates that her efforts have reached 2,300 individuals and 16,000 families annually, and involved more than 550 local volunteers.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, conducted annually by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honors students in grades 5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service.
“We created the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards 26 years ago to highlight and support the work of young people taking on the challenges of a changing world – a mission that rings truer than ever given the events of last year,” said Charles Lowrey, Prudential’s chairman and CEO. “We are proud to celebrate the vision and determination of Spirit of Community’s Class of 2021, and all the ways they’re making their communities safer, healthier and more equitable places to live.”