Sussex Tech student receives service award for water purification project

Emma Rider honored at ceremony in Washington D.C.
Rising Sussex Tech senior Emma Rider wears the gold medallion she received as the 2014 National Jefferson Award winner. SOURCE SUBMITTED
July 8, 2014

The Jefferson Awards Foundation, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious volunteer award organization, honored Emma Rider, a rising senior at Sussex Technical High School, June 18 with the 2014 National Jefferson Award for her participation in the Lead360 Challenge.

Rider was presented the Jefferson Award gold medallion during the ceremony attended by over 450 guests in the Grand Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington D.C.

The Lead360 Challenge engages America’s youth ages 5-25 to elevate their local service projects onto a national platform, empowering and educating youth on their ability to affect meaningful change individually, collectively, nationally and locally. Rider’s project, Quenching Soles, was chosen out of 27 finalists during a two-week social media campaign that engaged social media networks across the globe.

“A child dies every 10 seconds due to a water-related disease.” This was the sentence that sparked Rider’s Shoes for Water project, Quenching Soles. Over the past three and a half years, Rider has collected over 80,000 pairs of new and used shoes, and raised between $30,000 and $35,000. Her efforts have generated enough money to purchase 40 WaterStep chlorinators, bringing pure water to potentially 400,000 people. Unsatisfied with just donating supplies, Emma traveled to Kenya where she not only helped install three water purification systems, but also taught Kenyans about health, hygiene, clean water, and how to maintain the systems for maximum use.

“The Lead360 Challenge is about recognizing exceptional youth service wherever it’s taking place, “ said Jefferson Awards founder Sam Beard. “From schools and nonprofits to faith-based organizations and inspired individuals, any young American 25 and under with a passion to serve can win. Emma Rider is just one of those youths.”

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