Growing up, Samantha Schulteis would visit South America with her family. While they explored places like Peru and Argentina, Schulteis couldn’t ignore the poverty that surrounded them.
“I remember seeing a lot of shanty homes and things like that on the sides of the road,” she recalled. “And I was just thinking, ‘This is so sad. Why is no one doing anything?’”
As president of Seneca High School’s Spanish Club, Schulteis began fundraising for Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH), an organization that aids under-resourced children in Latin America.
At home, Schulteis, whose family owns a farm, was bothered by the amount of produce she saw put in the trash after farmer’s markets. When she heard about Farmers Against Hunger, she began donating the leftover fruits and vegetables to people in need.
“Service has always been who I am,” Schulteis explained. “I feel that I can give so much back to the community.”
Schulteis was recently honored as an outstanding volunteer at Lenape Regional High School District’s May board of education meeting. The honor came with a plaque and college scholarship.
After graduation, Schulteis plans to attend Drexel University in Philadelphia, where she will study environmental science. She hopes to use her degree to improve quality of life for people around the world.
“There are so many people who are just less fortunate,” she noted. “By focusing on environmental science, we can focus on sustainable growth and smart growth within communities to better the world and focus on protecting the earth rather than harming it.”
The school district also honored parent Tom Besser, whose service makes a difference on the school’s football field. Besser is president of Seneca’s 12th Man Club, which fundraises for the Golden Eagles football team. Besser grew up in the area, but attended Shawnee High School before Seneca was built.
“That makes it even more special,” he said of his award. “I am still able to be a part of this in some way, even though we didn’t get to go there.”
Besser pushes football players to give back, noting that service creates a chain reaction of good deeds.
“They need to realize how much the little kids really look up and want to be like them one day,” he said. “I would suggest to any of the high-school kids to get involved in any way you can. Change your life a little bit.”
Schulteis encouraged teenagers to stay determined in making their charitable ideas a reality.
“Find whoever you can to help,” she advised. “There are so many teachers, parents, even other peers that can help you. Just starting with small opportunities can turn into really big things.”