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Hero Central: 16-year-old making a difference in Polk County

4:45 PM, Jul 30, 2010   |    comments
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Kierstein Nelson

Winter Haven, Florida -- While most kids are enjoying their summer vacations, one student from Winter Haven has been busy volunteering at several charities. All of that volunteering has recently paid off in a big way.

16-year-old Kierstein Nelson greets visitors at a senior neighborhood center in Winter Haven. She's spending part of her summer volunteering here.

"I learn a lot from the seniors and there's a lot of wisdom and knowledge you can get from them. It gives me a chance to give back and do whatever I can for them," says Kierstein.

Giving back to others is one of the reasons, she was chosen as a winner for the Kohl's "Kids Who Care" scholarship program. The $1,000 scholarship is given to the top two winners in the Tampa Bay area and with two years left of high school; she's ready to put that scholarship to use at the college of her choice.

"I do want to go to college. I'm still unsure about where I would like to go right now, but there's a lot out there, so I'm going to keep looking and choose the best one for me," she says.

Kierstein serves as a pen pal for kids whose parents have been incarcerated and recently helped arrange a charity benefit for victims of the Haiti earthquake.

In addition to working at the Senior Citizens Center in Winter Haven, Kierstein also donates her time to local churches in Lakeland where she helps feed the homeless.

"It was an eye opening experience because some of them told about how they actually had jobs and due to losing their job they ended up homeless."

The senior citizens who visit the center say Kierstein is a very special young lady.

"We just enjoy her so much and I pray that she has a wonderful life, because she is so good," says Julia Tyson, who visits the Senior Citizens Center often.

Kierstein has a shot at winning an additional $9,000 from Kohl's if she's chosen to be a national finalist for the scholarship program.

Melvin Beal, 10 News

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