2018-05-10 / News

Blueberry ambassadors make the world a better place

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com


David Pines, a student at Bentley Middle School, won the Blue Ribbon Award for the Bentley Community Schools district after he reached out to a homeless man. David Pines, a student at Bentley Middle School, won the Blue Ribbon Award for the Bentley Community Schools district after he reached out to a homeless man. FLINT —Although approximately 1,400 students participated in the Blueberry Ambassadors program this year, promoting kindness in our community, the program’s founder wants the program to grow to 2,000 participants.

Mayor Karen Weaver was present at a 2018 award ceremony for the Blueberry Ambassadors May 4. Weaver said she remembered about five years ago driving around in her car seeing a billboard that said ‘I’m concerned about the Blueberries.’ She thanked Phil Shaltz for the vision he had when he put the Blueberry Ambassador program together, as well as everyone else who made the Blueberry Ambassador 2018 Award Party possible.

“You can’t say things aren’t happening around here, and our young people are helping to make it happen because you all are doing random acts of kindness,” Weaver said.


Lilian Gray, a student at Feidler Elementary School, won the Blue Ribbon Award for the Kearsley Community Schools district. 
Photos by Tanya Terry. Lilian Gray, a student at Feidler Elementary School, won the Blue Ribbon Award for the Kearsley Community Schools district. Photos by Tanya Terry. Shaltz began introducing the program in 2013 with a mysterious billboard that captured many individuals’ attention.

As a joke, Shaltz arrived dressed as Yoda because he turns 70 years old this year, and the ceremony’s theme was Star Wars. He threw out blue balls designed to look like blueberries at the students.

Shaltz and Marjory Raymer gave out several awards. With 13,873 votes, the People’s Choice Award was given to Woodland Park Academy, coordinated by Sarah Doty and Emma Mayberry. The school was awarded $1,000.

The Inspirational Teacher Award was given to Vickie Weiss from Grand Blanc Perry Innovation Center. She has been a teacher for 54 years. A $6,000 full semester scholarship to the University of Michigan-Flint is awarded by the winner of the Inspirational Teacher Award for a student in one of their district’s high schools.

Blue Ribbon Awards were given to one student in each school district, with each winner’s school receiving $100 to continue doing good. Angela Taylor won the $100 award for West Bendle Elementary School.

One recess, Taylor was going to get on the swings with two other friends, when she saw a girl named Hope sitting on the bike rack with no one around her “because she was very depressed and sad.” Taylor offered to play with Hope, to the Hope’s delight. When the whistle blew for recess to end and they went back into the building, Taylor realized for the first time Hope was in the same classroom as her. She had never noticed before because Hope sat in the back of the class.

David Pines, a student at Bentley Middle School, won the Blue Ribbon Award for his school.

Pines gave a winter hat to a homeless man because the man didn’t have a hat, making the homeless man cry.

Lilian Gray, a student at Feidler Elementary School, won the Blue Ribbon Award for her school. Her Blueberry moments included making friends with a girl named Kenzie.

“I felt exited to make another new friend and make another person feel happy,” Gray said.

The winner of the 2017-2018 Founder’s Award was Brooke Laine, a student at Davison Central Elementary School. Her school received $500. The class the Founder’s Award comes from gets ‘pay it forward’ by choosing someone from their school to receive a one-year $12,000 scholarship to the University of Michigan-Flint.

For her winning Blueberry moment, Laine said she went to a restaurant and saw a man sitting by himself trying to gather enough money to buy a pop. Laine heard the waitress say “it’s on me.” Heartbroken, Laine got her dad to buy the man dinner and wrote the man a handwritten note that said “you are loved.” In return the man took paperclip angel off a women’s necklace he had on off and gave to the waitress to give to the Laine. This made Laine cry tears of joy.

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