BIG winners: Looking back on a year of service

Lia Zneimer  //  Jan 17, 2014

BIG winners: Looking back on a year of service

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" Dr. Martin Luther King once said. Inspired by his words and his commitment to service, we honor Dr. King's legacy each year by trying to make a difference in our communities.

For the past five years, as part of the ongoing Clifford The Big Red Dog®  BE BIG!™ campaign--which invites everyone to take action and raise awareness for how Clifford's BIG Ideas can make the world a better place--Scholastic has partnered with HandsOn Network to host the "BE BIG In Your Community Contest." The contest invites participants to submit a BIG idea (one that incorporates Clifford's big ideas!) for a chance to win a community grant used to implement the winning proposals.

Since its inception in 2009, the contest has generated over 4,200 BIG ideas from more than 100,000 children, parents, teachers and community leaders, and has awarded over $200,000 in grants to bring these BIG ideas to life. We thought it'd be fun to look back on the winning BE BIG proposals from 2013. (You can view the winners from previous years and learn more about the projects of the 2013 winners here.)

  • Karrie M., Bay City, MI. Her BIG Idea: "Paws for a Book: Readers Rock" -- a program that engages students in grades K-5 in a continuous service project through the introduction of service dogs into the classroom.
  • Andy Yung, Flushing, NY. His BIG Idea: As a pre-K teacher, Andy wanted to implement "Family Center Night" at his school to allow children of all ages and grades to experience what Pre-K does on a regular basis: allow kids to be kids.
  • Athena Sofides, Brooklyn, NY. Her BIG Idea: "PJs for Patients," a charity that would collect pajamas for children and teens seeking cancer treatment in various hospitals and deliver them in an attempt to make the kids feel more at home.
  • Caroline Ill, Jacob, IL. Her BIG Idea: A school and community book exchange. There is no free public library in her rural town, so an exchange would get books directly into the hands of the children and families in her area.
  • Gabrielle Posard, Encinitas, CA. Her BIG Idea: Food rescue. She created "Donate Don't Dump," an all volunteer, teen-run national charity that now has more than 4,000 members and aims to prevent food waste.
  • Lily Grijalva, Phoenix, AZ. Her BIG Idea: Project Green Power. She and her fellow teachers wanted to involve students in a multi-disciplinary project aimed at developing a sense of responsibility for our planet and their role.

How will you BE BIG this Martin Luther King Day? Tell us in the comments below!