Introduced in 2014, in partnership with Mayflower 400 in Plymouth, England, Illuminate Thanksgiving was created to inspire gratitude and giving as expressed in the tagline “Give Thanks, Give Back”. The youth-oriented programming was designed to create an inspirational atmosphere and to stimulate gratitude and giving in communities, groups, and families. Based upon Governor William Bradford’s quote:
“…as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many…”
the One Small Candle Award is given to an individual who has made a difference in many lives at a young age.
One Small Candle Award Recipients:
2020: Lucy Jackson and Alexander Taylor
Eight year old Lucy Jackson of Plymouth, Massachusetts is the youngest ever One Small Candle Award Recipient! Lucy launched a GoFundMe Me page to raise money in order to help students in the Plymouth area to get the computers they need to learn from home during the Pandemic. To date, Lucy has raised more than eight thousand dollars for this initiative. Congratulations Lucy!
Alexander Taylor is a youth leader that empowers social entrepreneurs to, as his bio reads “address societal, community, and environmental
issues.” He is the Founder & President of Artem NexGen, a 2019 Global Citizen Year Senegal Graduate, Youth Ambassador to The Global Challenges Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, and a 2019 1M2030 spotlight speaker at the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva, as well as an honors student at Morehouse College. He developed Artem NexGen, an international youth leadership organization, as a platform to provide access to professional opportunities for youth leaders of the rising generation. Congratulations Alexander!
2019: Massachusetts Special Olympics and Plymouth High Schools
In 2019 we honored the efforts of the Special Olympics of Massachusetts and the Unified Sports programs at Plymouth North and South High Schools. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools activates youth with and without intellectual disabilities to come together as student leaders, athletes, and agents for inclusion within their school communities. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools motivates all students to create environments full of respect, dignity, and advocacy for students with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Unified Sports® brings together athletes with intellectual disabilities and athletes without intellectual disabilities to train and compete on the same team. Volunteers improve their physical fitness, sharpen their skills, and learn acceptance and inclusion while participating in Unified Sports. A primary goal of Unified Sports is to equalize the ability level of Special Olympics athletes with their partners and to promote inclusion through team practice and competition.
Students from both Plymouth North High School and Plymouth South High School and a representative from Massachusetts Special Olympics were on hand to accept the awards and talk about their experiences as peers with and without intellectual disabilities. Click here for more information.
2018: Valerie Weisler/The Validation Project
Started by 20-year-old Valerie Weisler, we’re an international movement turning passions into positive action. 6000 teens, 1000 schools, 105 countries.
Valerie Weisler was bullied for being shy in 9th grade. She decided to create a place where everybody was loved – The Validation Project. Now, 6000+ teens in 100 countries are on our team, and 970 schools teach our kindness curriculum. Click here for more information.
2017: Taylor Goodman-Leong/ For the Love of Erika
For the Love of Erika is a toy drive started by Taylor Goodman-Leong, in memory of her friend, Erika, who passed away from cancer at the age of 7. For the Love of Erika collects, wraps, and distributes holiday presents to hospitals, shelters, and the Department of Children and Families throughout New England, as well as hosting holiday parties for homeless shelters and disadvantaged children (at Jump On In, Lowell and Gibbet Hill, Groton). In addition to this, For the Love of Erika also raises scholarship money to send disadvantaged children to summer camp.
If you would like to make a donation, please make it payable to: For the Love of Erika, c/o Laura Goodman, 68 Main Street, Suite 3, Andover, MA 01810. Click here for more information.
2016: Berquist Family/Cellphones For Soldiers
Cell Phones For Soldiers is a national nonprofit serving troops and veterans with free communication services and emergency funding. Founded in 2004 by Robbie and Brittany Bergquist, then 12 and 13 years old, Cell Phones For Soldiers relies on generous cash contributions and donations of gently-used cell phones to provide a lifeline for America’s bravest.
Cell Phones For Soldiers has two programs:
• Minutes That Matter provides free calling cards to active-duty military members to connect with loved ones.
• Helping Heroes Homes assists veterans with emergency funds to alleviate communication challenges as well as physical, emotional and assimilation hardships.
Since 2004, more than 15 million cell phones have been recycled, reducing the impact on landfills. For more information, please visit www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest pages. Click here for more information.
2015: The Earl Family/This Star Won’t Go Out (The Fault In Our Stars)
Since its founding in 2011, TSWGO has helped hundreds of families, with gifts totaling over $450,000 to help families suffering from financial hardship related to childhood cancer. We love that their funding is extremely grassroots, initiated and organized by caring individuals and groups of young people from all around the globe who want to make a difference for kids. They purchase bracelets and T-shirts that promote TSWGO, and hold creative fundraisers. Individuals and groups have hosted all-night Rock-a-thons, an 84-mile walk around an English wall, carnivals, bake sales, battle-of-the-bands, head-shavings, and even a 5,000-piece domino art project!
TSWGO was established in memory of 16-year old Esther Earl, an avid Nerdfighter and passionate Harry Potter fan. Her online friends and causes met many of the social and emotional needs in her life, hampered as she was by her progressing thyroid cancer. Yet Esther lived life fully, getting involved in social justice issues, loving her friends, her family, and cats, and always remembering to be awesome.
Project LOVEly is a new grant-giving venture from This Star Won’t Go Out, inspiring young people to live fully and love deeply in the face of life’s challenges. Project LOVEly seeks to motivate young people to actions that reflect the “Esther Effect,” instilling hope, creating spaces of awesome, and demonstrating love in their communities. Click here for more information.