Coffee County Central High School senior George Gannon was recently named Coffee County’s Youth Honoree at the Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10.
The award recognizes a youth and an adult who go above and beyond with volunteer work in their county. Gannon, who is involved in many things with his school, was the first person who came to CHS’s student support services administrator Nicole Carney’s mind. She brought the award to his attention and asked if he would be willing to apply. The pair sent off the application in September and didn’t hear back until January.
“It felt nice, honestly,” Gannon said when he learned he won. He added it was a surprise, because he didn’t think he was chosen due to the months of silence.
As student body president, the 18-year-old is very involved. Student government is where his passion truly lies. This year, he made it his project to expand the school’s food drive. In the past, he noticed less involvement and participation, to where the final tally could only serve 30-40 families and the drive was only able to be held once a year.
He’s worked to partner with Second Harvest to expand the program for the same amount of money the student government spent on the old model. Because of this, their food drive expanded tremendously and is able to be held three times this year. The next one is on March 15.
“I’m very proud we’ve been able to sustain two food drives,” Gannon said.
He is also involved in the school’s Project Graduation, which is a large lock-in for seniors before they graduate. The night rewards those who participate with cash prizes – the more students did throughout the year with volunteer work, the more money they are able to claim. Gannon started volunteering when he was 11 and helped his mother set up tables and booths.
“A lot of it was just me getting dragged to it at first, but over the years, I realized all the good that came out of it,” Gannon admitted.
He sees a lot of impoverished kids benefiting from this and participating and showing gratitude for the event.
Gannon, an active member of SkillsUSA, is a state officer, which means he goes to various conferences, helps set them up and judges a few competitions. Locally, he noticed the dwindling population in SkillsUSA and worked to double the student participation this year.
He is also involved in the Manchester Recreation Complex’s Teen Council. He helped with lock-ins at the Recreation Complex as well as holiday parades since his junior year.
Outside of clubs and volunteering, Gannon holds himself to the same standard.
“If someone asks for help with their work, I stop my work and make sure they’re good to go,” he said, adding that he doesn’t just help them with the one issue – he intentionally goes beyond the problem to help them in the future.
“I’m always trying to befriend people that look like they need a friend and standing up for people. There’s just people that need someone and I try to be that person whenever I can be. I’ve seen just how down on your luck people can get. I want to do as much as I can to help people,” he continued.
“I want to be someone people can look up to if they’re down on their luck…I always try to make that standpoint my moral compass. There’s got to be something more than being abrasive. We’re all on this earth together, why would we be mean to each other?” Gannon concluded.
After graduation, Gannon wants to become an engineer and eventually a Career and Technical Education teacher for an engineering class.
He thanked Carney, because without her, he never would have known about the Youth Honoree contest, his teacher Jon Spears, his parents and everyone who has supported him along the way.
Carney offered words of praise for the senior.
“I initially met George as a freshman,” she said. “Over the last four years I have had the pleasure to watch him grow and become an exceptional young man. He has shown an uncommon work ethic to reach his very challenging goals. I have admired George’s desire to propel himself into positions of responsibility and leadership. I am eager to watch him in the future.”