Collinsville High School Senior Payten Geppert has been honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a 2020 President’s Volunteer Service Award.
The award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, was granted by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. Collinsville High School Principal David Snider nominated Payten for national honors this Fall in recognition of her volunteer service.
“On behalf of the President of the United States, we are proud to be able to present this prestigious award to Prudential Spirit of Community honorees who have met its requirements,” said a letter from Charles F. Lowrey, Chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial and JoAnn Bartoletti, Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Payten spends many hours volunteering and participating in athletics and extra-curricular activities at Collinsville High School, however, her main collection of hours comes from her work with HIS KIDS, an organization based in Highland serving families affected by childhood cancer.
Each summer, Payten participates in a summer camp specifically for children receiving cancer treatment and their siblings. The camp allows children to experience everyday childlike activities that are uncommon for children on treatment to be allowed to do. The camp is unique because it includes siblings of those undergoing treatment. Research has found siblings also experience feelings of guilt, resentment, jealousy, anger, sorrow, etc. towards their sibling who demanded almost all parental attention.
Payten spent two years in the “Leader In Training” program to prepare for her role as counselor at this camp held in Wartburg, IL. Last summer she was a counselor, under Collinsville alum Kelsey Stosberg, in a cabin for girls ages 8-10 who were receiving treatment for various cancers. As a healthy teenager with a healthy sister, Payten worried she wouldn’t know how to address the emotions her campers were experiencing.
“However, after spending the week as a family unit; eating, participating and working through all events together, we ended each evening with a share circle where we talked about our hopes and fears, and found ways to work around the struggles and recognize each of our strengths,” she said.
When asked why she places a high value on volunteering, Payten said, “Why not? It feels good and it’s fun to make children laugh. I don’t really see it as something special or extra, it’s just what we’ve always done in my family. I am lucky enough to have so much good in my life, why wouldn’t I want to share it with others?”
Extra Curricular Clubs & Sports at Collinsville High School
- Attended Diversity Training with Multicultural Club 2017
- Kahoks on the GO (Half Marathon training program) 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
- Student Council 2017, 2018
- KahokStrong 2017, 2018
- Sign Language Club (founding member) 2019, 2020
- Varsity Athlete~Cross Country 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 (co-captain)
- Varsity Athlete~Track 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
- KahokSTRONG Cosmic Bingo (4 hours)- 2016
- Cross Country Turkey Trot 5K (4 hours)- 2016
- KahokSTRONG Cosmic Bingo (4 hours)- 2017
- Cross Country Turkey Trot 5K (4 hours)- 2017
- HIS KIDS (an organization serving families affected by childhood cancer): Charity Auction (4 hours),
- Summer Camp- for children on treatment for cancer and their siblings (98 hours- 15/day removing sleep time)- 2017
- Leaps of Love (organization for families dealing with the aftereffects of children with cancer):
- Family Weekend Retreat- assignment to a family to assist in activities to balance time given to the child on treatment and the siblings- (8 hours)-2017
- Cross Country Turkey Trot 5K (4 hours)- 2018
- HIS KIDS: Fall Festival (6 hours), Charity Auction (4 hours), Summer Camp-for children on treatment for cancer and their siblings (98 hours)- 2018
- HIS KIDS: Summer Camp- for children on treatment for cancer and their siblings (98 hours)- 2019
- Cross Country Turkey Trot 5K (4 hours)- 2019