Student:

Drew Callaghan.

School: Holy Ghost Preparatory High School in Bensalem.

Achievements: Callaghan, 17, of Lower Makefield Township, was named Bucks County teen volunteer of the year by the YWCA of Bucks County, besting 13 other student nominees from high schools around the county. Callaghan won a $250 scholarship and a plaque. He was recognized at YWCA events at the Newtown Athletic Club and the Spring Mill Country Club in Ivyland.

Callaghan began volunteering when he was in fifth grade and traveled to the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank to prepare food boxes for needy families. He has volunteered with the Bucks County Housing Group, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Amor Ministries in Mexico, and with his parish, St. John the Evangelist Church in Lower Makefield Township.

That winning feeling: "It's a big honor. I felt very honored because I was with a group of kids that have done some incredible stuff. I was very humbled to be the one chosen out of all those people."

The first-time volunteer: "My parents kind of dragged me along, but then I really got into it. It became something that I did and not just something with my family. Ever since then I've been volunteering, just finding things that I want to do."

First impressions: "I was very surprised that this other world existed. It was very different from what I'd seen. I live in Yardley and I'm very fortunate. It's an eye-opening experience to see that a few miles from where I live, people are living in transitional housing and below the poverty line. Parents are struggling to get their GED and put their kids through school. I wasn't aware of it until I started volunteering and became more involved."

Kids Helping Kids: "It's a project I started, a food collection for kids. I contacted the local Catholic schools in the area and we have food drives. My home parish is really helping me out. We just did a collection for the CCD and it's benefiting the Morrisville Food Pantry of the Bucks County Housing Group, which I'm very involved with."

The inspiration: "After I came back from a home-building trip in Baja, Mexico, I wanted to start something on my own. We flew to San Diego with the Allentown Presbyterian Church youth group and then spent a week in the Baja desert. We lived in tents and we didn't have running water or electricity. We traveled each day to a small village and built a house for a family of five. I'd never been outside of the U.S. at that point and to go to a country where the poverty was so in evidence. It was night and day crossing the border."

The role of faith: "My religious beliefs do influence what I do. A lot of what I do is connected with my church, but I do it because it's who I am, not necessarily because of what my faith is. That's an aspect, but I do it because of who I am."

The future: "I'd like to do something in government service. Politics would be great And I'm looking at some ROTC programs. I think it's the best way I can give back to my country that has given me so much."

Considering faith, charitable works and the military: "I feel a sense of service with my volunteer work and with my faith and giving back to my religious community. On a greater level, I feel I should give back to the country. We like to believe that the U.S. does its best to use its military to protect and provide for the people in this country and the people in other countries."

The nomination: John Fitzpatrick, of Holy Ghost Prep, cites Callaghan's involvement as a student government senator, a peer minister and an office assistant in his nomination letter to the YWCA. In an e-mailed statement, Fitzpatrick said "I nominated Drew for the honor foremost because he has proven himself to be a self-motivated volunteer who takes initiative and attempts to involve his peers in the projects he plans and undertakes."

- Kristin E. Holmes