Weyauwega-Fremont senior receives President’s Volunteer Service Award
By Angie Landsverk
Liz Hillskotter’s efforts to help collect thousands of items for an orphanage overseas resulted in a national recognition for her.
The Weyauwega-Fremont High School senior received a 2015 President’s Volunteer Service Award.
“She’s just an outsanding student, so dedicated with FFA and NHS. She does a lot of things in the community,” said Jeremy Schroeder.
Schroeder, the school district’s middle and high school principal, nominated Hillskotter for the award last fall.
“She’s very deserving, and it may be long overdue,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
The award recognizes those who volunteer significant amounts of time to serve their communities and is granted by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program on behalf of President Barack Obama.
Sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the awards recognize middle and high school students throughout the country.
After Schroeder nominated Hillskotter, she filled out an application, learning she had to choose to describe her involvement in one major community service project.
She chose Generosity for Georgia, a project she worked on last school year with Melano Durmishidze.
Durmishidze is from Tbilisi in the country of Georgia and was an exchange student at W-F High School during the 2013-14 school year.
“Melano came to me in January of last year,” Hillskotter said. “She wanted to do a big community service project through FFA.”
With Durmishidze in the school district just a year, Hillskotter wanted to help her.
Since Durmishidze had already helped an orphanage back home, it was her idea to collect items for it.
The two young women organized the collection and called it Generosity for Georgia.
Students and their families donated blankets, stuffed animals, books and clothing.
“Some people brought new items,” said Hillskotter.
More than 20,000 items were donated, much more than they anticipated.
Then the two students had to figure out how to cover the cost of shipping all of it overseas.
“That was the most stressful part,” Hillskotter said. “We didn’t realize how much we would receive, and then we had to raise money to pay the shipping costs.”
High school clubs and people in the community donated funds to cover that cost. Late last summer, the items arrived in Georgia, and Durmishidze delivered them to the orphanage.
Among the items were letters to the children in the orphanage, written by W-F’s elementary students.
“After all the hard work, it was an awesome project to be part of,” Hillskotter said.
She is thankful Schroeder nominated her for the recognition.
While he learned in February she was among this year’s recipients, he decided to hold off until this spring’s all-school assembly at the high school to make the announcement.
Schroeder invited Hillskotter’s parents, Doug and Brenda Hillskotter, to the program and again announced the award at this month’s senior banquet.
Serving the community is part of who Hillskotter is.
Last year, she provided almost 300 hours of community service.
Many of her service hours are through FFA, with others through NHS.
She also coaches youth softball in the summer and is running for a state FFA office.
If elected, Hillskotter will spend the next year traveling throughout the state, representing the state and making presentations at conferences.
She said if she is not elected, she will begin her freshman year at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in the fall.
“Through all my family’s been through the last few years and all that was given to us, it’s great to give back,” she said.
Hillskotter loves to see projects accomplished.
“It’s awesome to see all my hard work being noticed,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be. It’s nice to get that recognition.”