TCN's May Newsmaker: Za'Nia Stinson
By Jackie Stinson
Congratulations go out to 13-year-old Za’Nia Stinson, a rising 8th grader, of Charlotte, NC for being named the top youth middle school volunteer for the state of North Carolina for 2020 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
Za’Nia is the founder and president of the nonprofit Z Feeds Angel Food Project which she started at age nine. She creates and distributes “Go-Go Bags,” which are gallon bags filled with food, drink, toiletries and inspirational booklets or handwritten notes offering encouragement and hope for the people who receive them.
She has provided thousands of food and toiletry items to women and children staying at the local homeless shelter and to people living on the streets. Za’Nia has always had a compassionate heart but her mission really began one day when she saw a lady and her two children standing in front of a supermarket begging for food. She knew what it was like to be hungry and homeless and it made her very sad to see this, because at one time she too had lived in the homeless shelter.
She asked her foster mom for money to help the lady, who immediately started to cry when she received it. This brought tears to Za’Nia’s eyes and she knew she wanted to do something to make a difference. She began applying for grants and soliciting donations. Since she started her organization, Za’Nia has made and distributed over 625 bags containing over 4,500 food items and more than 3,500 toiletries.
She solicits and is grateful for food donations from local supermarkets and toiletries from doctor’s offices. Za’Nia also appreciates the support from Z Feeds Angel Food Project, the A. M. E. Zion Church especially her Greenville Memorial AME Zion Church family, her Mountain Island Day Community Charter School family, the Inspire Dance Company, the Girls Scouts and donations from individuals willing to help make a difference in the lives of someone less fortunate.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 25th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). It represents the largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service and honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The honorees are selected based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth. As a state honoree, Za’Nia will receive a scholarship, an engraved silver medallion and was scheduled to receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC in early May. There were plans for four days of national recognition where she and the 101 other winners would join the two top honorees from each state. They had scheduled visits to their Congressional leaders, tours of the capital’s landmarks, an honoree luncheon and a gala award ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of National History. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trip had to be cancelled for the safety of all concerned.
The award celebration had to take a different path and had a 3-day Virtual event instead, with the first day being a group ice breakers and “Show & Tell” about your project with the honorees. On day two, the honorees were able to talk about ways to make their projects better and discuss the challenges they face and encourage each other to continue their work. Day three was the big celebration for the honorees and their families with greetings from the CEOs from both Prudential Financial and NASSP. The special guest was actress, singer and director Kristen Bell who gave a very inspiring message to the youth and their families.
Again, we are so very proud of Za’Nia and appreciate her service to others. If you would like to drop her a word of encouragement or Congratulations, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.