Kauai girl receives national award for service after starting community food pantry – Yahoo News

Aug. 22—Young philanthropist Emilia Knudsen of Kapaa, Kauai, who raised funds to open a free food pantry during the height of the pandemic, has received The President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award for 2020.

She received the certificate through the mail in June, accompanied by a letter expressing appreciation by President Joe Biden in recognition of her 500 + hours of service.

“By sharing your time and passion, you are helping discover and deliver solutions to the challenges we face—solutions that we need now more than ever, ” the president wrote.

In April 2020 Knudsen, then 11, began to people hurt by the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 shutdowns. She filled a makeshift cupboard in front of her home, dubbed the “Free Food Pantry, ” with supplies and also partnered with The Kauai Store to use it as a community food pantry.

The young entrepreneur raised over $10, 000 through making handcrafted items, including Keiki Dough (a nontoxic version of Play-Doh ), and Trash to Treasure ornaments and jewelry from beach glass, shells and other objects found in nature. They items are sold online on Etsy under EmiliaKJewelry and at The Kauai Store, which specializes in locally ­made gifts and products.

This February, Knudsen raised funds and donations to benefit kupuna ­(senior citizens ) with a Valentine’s Day party at the Regency at Puakea, an ­assisted-living facility in Lihue, to ­offset loneliness experienced during their isolation during the pandemic.

That same month, she was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, which qualified her for The President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Her current fundraising project is to boost the spirits of young people who struggled as a result of the pandemic with a dance party, once COVID-19 ­restrictions are lifted again.