Since 2007, 13-year-old Madison Skipper, an eighth-grader at Carwise Middle School, has been helping local children with clothing needs.
While in elementary school, the self-proclaimed "fashion-loving fifth-grader" became aware of the needs of children in her community during a shoe collection at Forest Lakes Elementary. "As a young child, I never thought that there were kids who couldn't afford clothes and shoes," Madison said. "In fifth grade, my school did a shoe drive for an organization called Clothes To Kids."
The youngster researched the organization and its founders, Jode Eye and Marie McClung, and was impressed by what she learned.
That summer, 20 percent of the earnings from her entrepreneurial "Mommy's Helper" business were donated to CTK.
A tour of the Clearwater CTK facility followed for Madison and her mother. When Madison learned how many children benefited from the organization's efforts, it sparked an idea.
Since then, the teen has hosted an annual Valentine's party to benefit CTK, collecting a larger number of donations every year. This year's collection drive was conducted in three parts, and also included a monetary donation.
"I look forward to being a youth volunteer at CTK starting this summer," Madison said. "I will finally be 14 years old and yes, I have already started planning next year's Valentine's Day to benefit Clothes To Kids."
Madison is the daughter of Charles and Shannon Skipper of Oldsmar.
• • •
The Safety Harbor Kiwanis presented Sea Hawk Awards to two eighth-grade students at Safety Harbor Middle School. The award represents excellence achieved by outstanding students.
Bella Briseno was selected by her teacher, Krista Valentage, who says Bella is an exceptional student and puts forth admirable effort. She displays responsibility and great character, always standing her ground and is never afraid to do what is right. She's a leader in the classroom and well respected by her peers.
The second student honored is Kamryn Shapero, chosen by her teacher, Susan Loukes, who reports that the eighth-grader is a high achiever in her honors algebra class. Kamryn freely and willingly helps others. She is the type of person who responds above and beyond the call of duty and is always very responsible.
• • •
Sarah Brown has been named executive director for the Humane Society of Pinellas, and stepped into her new position April 4. Brown is from New York City, where she worked in a variety of positions within the animal sheltering and rescue industry.
"Sarah Brown will join the HSP team with her extensive experience and knowledge in the animal rescue industry, management and community relations skills along with her passion and love for animals," said Steve Bunch, chairman of the organization's board. "On behalf of the board of directors, staff and volunteers at HSP, we are delighted to have Sarah join our shelter and look forward to her guidance in maintaining the mission of providing compassionate care to animals while upholding our vision and values through quality care, humane education and financial stewardship."
Most recently, Brown was the executive director of the nonprofit Rescue Ink Foundation, where she supervised daily operations, managed development needs and maintained positive relations within the community that ensured the foundation's success and growth.
Before that, she was the senior manager at Animal Care & Control of New York City, where she helped facilitate operations at all three city shelters. Brown was responsible for quality control, community relations, volunteers, events and the developmental needs at one of the nation's largest animal shelters and worked with staff and volunteers in every phase of the shelter from intake to adoptions. She created and implemented successful programs such as fostering pets, fundraising and grant writing that affected the three locations, along with coordinating media and outreach efforts to the community.
"I am honored to be appointed as the executive director of the Humane Society of Pinellas," said Brown. "The shelter provides such important lifesaving services to the community's sick, injured, abused and abandoned pets and wildlife, and I am thrilled to be a part of that. I look forward to working with the wonderful staff, volunteers and dedicated board of directors, as we continue to provide shelter, care, and love to animals in need."