Caitlin Cross, 15, daughter of Mark and Nancy Cross, Baxter, was recognized as the 2004-2005 National Outstanding Young Volunteer of the Year Award recipient during the 92nd national convention of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary in Salt Lake City.
She received a $5,000 U.S. savings bond and plaque.
Sponsored by Mahlum Hanson VFW Auxiliary No. 1647 in Brainerd, Cross was among 27 state candidates entered in the national contest, which recognizes students ages 12-15 who have provided extraordinary volunteer service to their communities.
She put together a coalition this year to send care packages to soldiers through Operation Interdependence, a civilian-to-military delivery system. She contacted members of the Crow Wing Civil Air Patrol to help her solicit businesses for Ziploc bags and collaborated with eight elementary schools in the Brainerd School District to serve as collection sites. As a result of her efforts, items were sent to 2,000 troops and $1,000 was donated for postage.
Caitlin Cross was honored by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary.
In December she represented Operation Interdependence on a national tour, she was co-chair of the Fourth of July parade, served on the Youth As Resources Board, and helped organize Arts in the Park and the Multiple Sclerosis walk.
At age 4, she helped her mom cook chili for the United Way Chili Cook-Off and since then has mentored younger children in school, taught a dance class for 5- and 6-year-olds at the YMCA, worked the starting line for a dogsled race, volunteered in the kitchen of the senior center for a pancake breakfast fund-raiser, helped with Brunch with Santa, worked with merchants during Mosquito Fest and helped organize the Christmas parade and festivities.
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