- Caring for Ghana's children
- Age: 17
- School: Kamiak High School
- Hometown: Mukilteo, Wash.
- Gender: Male
- Category: Social Activism and Community Service
Through the organization he co-founded, Hugs for Ghana, Joel raises money, supplies, donations and more to change the lives of children in Ghana. Hugs for Ghana has provided more than 6,000 school supplies and collected $5,000 worth of medical supplies and more than 6,000 stuffed animals in just four years -- and Joel is helping to lead the charge. The 17-year-old spends more than 500 hours each year planning supply drives for his organization, and he's not stopping there.
He hopes to partner with Microsoft to bring computer labs to Ghanaian schools, set up student-exchange programs between Ghana and the United States and establish a pen pal network. "As high school students, I feel we [at Hugs for Ghana] bring a different type of vision to the organization, one that can't be found in most organizations that are run by adults," he said. "We're simply a group of students who are passionate about volunteering and wanting to make the world a better place."