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Last week, the New Mexico Chapter for the Association of Fundraising Professionals celebrated National Philanthropy Day and shined the spotlight on youth through Youth in Philanthropy Day. Honored on this day was Derek Selvage of White Rock.
Piñon Elementary School Principal Megan Lee nominated Selvage, a sixth-grader, for many reasons. However, one reason shined more than others.
Selvage held his 11th birthday party where no gifts were accepted. His fellow students were invited to make donations for a good cause, all to be decided during the festivities.
His entire fifth grade class was invited and about $300 was collected. The students worked together to decide which recipient would benefit from Selvage’s good deed and their generous contribution.
The Panthers came up with three efforts to support; all of which would benefit many on a daily basis. The projects included assisting with the Piñon track renovation, building a shade structure near the school entry and increasing the school library collection.
“I nominated him because he stands out among his peers and thought his birthday idea was so simple and genuine and very thoughtful of others,” Lee said. “Derek is all-round helpful, willing to lend a hand and is a recess coach for some students. He really is a leader and I thought it was important to recognize his efforts.”
The Youth Philanthropy Day award recognizes service by three individuals, ages 5-18 in elementary, middle or high school that demonstrates commitment to the community through direct financial support, volunteering and leadership in philanthropy.
The criteria included the devotion of time, talent and treasure, and youth needed to involve others. It also required that the nominee show the impact they had on the community.
Selvage attended the awards ceremony in Albuquerque with his parents, Ron and Kim Selvage, and sister, Ruby. During the luncheon, Selvage accepted the award and spoke in front of 750 in attendance at the gala.
“I would like to thank Mrs. Lee and Mrs. McKinley for driving down to Albuquerque to support me on this day,” Selvage said. “I was happy just to be nominated. Winning the award is a great honor.”
Selvage is an all-star when it comes to ability and dedication of service. He has been a Cub Scout, VBS volunteer, plays baseball, basketball and football.
He is also an artist, singer and actor, who will perform the part of Grandpa Joe in the upcoming “Willy Wonka” production.
“Derek is a great kid. He is the kind of person who will carry that heavy box for a person in distress, he often thinks of others and is compassionate. He is mature, motivated and genuinely enthusiastic about everything. He is a genuine pleasure to have as a student. I can always count on him to do the right thing and love it,” Lee said.
The giving is done for Selvage, yet, “They gave me a big stuffed pony to give to a nonprofit organization,” he said. “I am still trying to decide where it would make the difference the most.”
“I am very proud of Derek. It speaks well of our students when they place the needs of others before themselves,” LAPS Superintendent Eugene Schmidt said. “We, as a community, have much to learn from the lesson this teaches us – it is better to give than to receive.”
During his acceptance speech, Selvage said, “I guess my next step is to make a difference in my world community.” “He has a wonderful future ahead of him,” Lee said.