The nominations are in, the staff votes have been tabulated, and one thing is clear: We still need your help! This past year, Random Acts received scores of incredible Caught in the Act (CITA) nomineees, each of whom has somehow made an incredible difference in the lives of those in their communities — and now, we’re hoping you can help us winnow the pool a little bit more.
This year, as always, the Random Acts team cast its decision and picked one staff-selected winner for a $3,000 monetary award, a special certificate, and a dedication right here on our official site. For the 2016 prize, our staff chose to honor Cristal Logothetis, of Glendale California — the founder of a group called “Carry the Future”, which aims to provide baby carriers to Syrian refugees fleeing their home countries in search of a safer space.
“Carry the Future has received approximately 30,000 baby carriers since our launch in September,” Cristal writes on the group’s Indiegogo page. “… Our plan is to raise enough funds to have a team of volunteers present in Athens every day of the week. We are also hoping to expand our efforts to the Greek-Macedonian border, where thousands of refugees are crossing dangerously.” In a blog update last month, Cristal added, “Thanks to our AWESOME volunteers we are hand delivering lots of donated baby carriers…. Carry the Future is growing and filling a real need.”
Setting up collection sites through a number of libraries, schools, and businesses across the world, Cristal and the Carry the Future team continues to work toward bringing Syrian refugee families the carriers and tools they need to succeed in their new communities and homes. “Our motto is that today’s children are tomorrow’s civilization,” Cristal told The Today Show in a profile last November. “We want to safeguard children. We want to make sure that, anytime there’s a crisis on this planet where there are mothers and families being displaced with their children, we can be there to help, and we can provide a safe way for people to transport their children.”
For her mindfulness, thoughtful efforts, and willingness to dedicate her spare time to such a moving cause, we’ve awarded Cristal with this year’s staff vote prize. Congratulations!
Public Vote Winner
There were so many incredible nominees submitted during this year’s CITA round-up that we simply couldn’t pick just one. That’s why, once again, we’ve handed off the opportunity to you, our kindhearted supporters, to select our annual public vote winner! Check out the profiles below and then cast your ballot for the one you’d like to see awarded with a $2,000 prize and an honorary certificate:
“At 15 years of age, it seems Analaura Amezquita’s community service and accomplishments are as limitless as her energy and dedication,” wrote the submitter behind Analaura’s nomination. “She devotes her time to one of her passions: spearheading health and wellness advocacy projects throughout her community.”
The 15-year-old southern California student isn’t sitting still and letting the world pass her by, according to the nominating party. “After attending Activate Whittier’s ‘Change Starts With Me’ training in 2012 and only 13 years old at the time, Analaura Amezquita became an advocate for the Southern California Kaiser Permanente Healthy Eating and Active Living Initiatives in her city, Whittier, California,” they wrote. Concerned about her community’s child obesity rate, which sits at around 25 percent, Analaura spends her free time volunteering with the local Healthy Picks Corner Store Conversion Program and has been, according to the submitter, an “integral” part of the group’s success.
“Out of her own initiative, she strategized a plan of how to approach the store owners and build a relationship, becoming friends before asking for them to participate in the conversion project,” they wrote, adding that Analaura also dedicates her weekends to educating the public, appearing at city council meetings, and organizing activities for her school-based Project W, a “student run club on campus whose mission is to engage their school community in pursuing a healthier environment for youth.”
In 2014, Katie, then a middle school student in Galesburg, Illinois, decided she wanted to fight back against bullying in her school — and her efforts have since grown to become much more than initially expected. “I used to be scared to come to school,” Katie told WQAD, a Quad Cities ABC affiliate, in an interview last April. Using her own experiences to become a force for good in her neighborhood, Katie started up the Take a Stand club, which works as a support network for other students suffering from bullying at school or who happen to be having a difficult time. The group also works together to do random acts of kindness.
“I didn’t think that I could make this much of a difference in people’s lives,” Katie told the news outlet, with a fellow student adding, “We’re not just a bunch of seventh graders —we’re taking a stand for what’s right.”
Dr. Phil Harrington
Dr. Harrington, qualified as an MD from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, struggled for years trying to find a diagnosis for his own illness, according to the submitter behind his nomination. It was that struggle which eventually led him to set up what is now the Human Health Project, a network of support that “bring[s] together the experiences from people using many different forms of health care”, according to the HHP’s official site.
“This firsthand experience of searching for health information for himself gave him a better understanding of how difficult it is to find reliable health information from the patients’ perspective,” wrote Dr. Harrington’s nominator. “his inspired him to set up Human Health Project in 2006 as a nonprofit, noncommercial, volunteer based initiative that empowers individuals to help each other online with information on their health conditions, diagnosis and treatment.”
The HHP now serves to improve access to health information, empower self-management of health conditions, and creates Peer-to-Peer support communities for better health, according to the group’s site.
Officer G. Ricci
The Huntington Beach Police seems to have one very dedicated service member amongst its ranks. “On September 26, 2015, Officer G. Ricci was selected to the Homeless Task Force, a new position created to address the growing … homeless population in our city,” wrote the department in a recent Facebook post. “He responds to citizen complaints and works with them to find long term solutions.”
According to his nominator and the department itself, Officer Ricci has since helped eight homeless individuals find safe housing, with an additional 14 individuals also in the process of obtaining housing. “[Officer Ricci] has also helped reunite six people with family to get them off the streets,” added the department. “In one instance, he found a mechanic willing to work on a homeless couple’s vehicle for free and provided them with a gas card to reunite them with family in Northern California.”
Rather than simply throwing homeless individuals with legal issues to the harried courts system, the department specified that Officer Ricci routinely follows cases through to their end, helping those individuals to find realistic consequences that will not force them back into the justice system months later for repeat offenses.
How do I cast a ballot?
We want to hear your voice! Tell us who you’re supporting on social media and help us choose a winner for our official 2016 Caught in the Act public vote. Let’s award generosity by giving back to those who are changing the world, one random act of kindness at a time.