By DEVIN WEEKS
Think of all the sweet, kind, helpful and courageous kids in your life.
Now, think of how to recognize them for being good kids, and how to encourage them to keep being awesome.
Tristan Hite has an idea: Nominate them for special awards that celebrate their awesomeness.
"We all need a reminder that there’s amazing kids out there doing amazing things," Hite said. "The little boy who started the lemonade stand? Somebody nominate that kid!"
Hite is president of the Moore for Youth Foundation, a nonprofit committed to inspiring and encouraging positive characteristics in young people while celebrating unspoken heroes in the community.
Established in 2016, the foundation honors the legacy of Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore, who was killed in the line of duty in May 2015. Because Hite wanted the organization to be character-driven and founded on attributes such as honor, integrity, respect and community service, she felt it was fitting to name the foundation in Moore's honor.
"It just made sense," she said. "He lived and breathed all of those characteristics."
The Moore for Youth Foundation isn't just for varsity athletes and straight-A students, and no politics or religion are involved.
"The only requirement is kindness," Hite said.
Through the foundation, local kids from kindergarten through 12th grade partner with parents and guardians to serve their community. About 80 youth volunteers are already signed up throughout Kootenai County. The projects they’ve helped with range from painting faces and fences at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds to working as ushers during performances at North Idaho College and selling raffle tickets during hockey games to benefit the Sgt. Moore K27 Memorial.
Rory Stocking, 10, and her mom, Michele, volunteered to help seat people during a performance in the Schuler Performing Arts Center at NIC last fall. Rory is normally a little shy, but after helping a few people get to their seats, she couldn't contain her joy.
"She just lit up and was so excited and was literally skipping to get to people and seat them,” Michele said. "I didn't volunteer as a child, and I get nervous at events now. To get her out there now and face-to-face with the community, and helping adults, wow! How important does she get to feel?"
"I enjoyed that I can help people and direct them to where they need to go so that they can enjoy the show," Rory said, adding the following advice for other kids who might want to join the foundation: "Don’t be scared!"
"At first I was scared," she said. "Then I realized it was great. So don’t be afraid because it turns out really, really good."
The Moore for Youth Foundation is always looking for service opportunities for youngsters to work together with other youths to achieve a common goal, creating lasting friendships and milestones of self-esteem and character-building along the way.
"The goal with kids is to get them in a position where they can help others, be positive and be around other kids doing positive things," Michele said.
The Moore for Youth Foundation is now accepting nominations for local kids to be recognized for doing those good deeds.
The categories are: honor and integrity; community involvement; courage; leadership; respect; and personal achievement.
Any adult or youth can nominate someone in those categories, which fall into elementary, middle and high school divisions. Nominations can be made online at www.mooreforyouth.com by clicking on "nominate a youth" and sharing how the nominee did something special.
All nominees and winners will be honored in a fancy, red carpet ceremony at Lake City Church on May 11. Winning stories will be read by the judges, who are upstanding locals who work with kids. Hite announced that a celebrity judge will be former Philadelphia Eagles football player Bryan Brayman, who was on the team when the Eagles won the Super Bowl and beat the New England Patriots in 2018.
"The kids will all be recognized for doing the amazing things they’re doing," Hite said. "But they will also be inspired by the other kids and what those kids are doing in the community.”
The nomination period closes March 13.