KAPA‘A — Emilia Knudsen, a 12-year-old philanthropist of Kapa‘a and a sixth-grader at Alaka‘i O Kaua’i Charter School, has received The Prudential Spirit Of Community Awards’ Certificate of Excellence, which recognizes the top student volunteers in the state of Hawai‘i.
Knudsen made a free food pantry on her street and became a manager at the Kapa‘a Community Food Pantry. She has been fundraising for a year now and has made and sold her Kaua‘i Sea Glass Art and Jewelry and KeikiDough and fire danced to raise money to feed and uplift her ‘Ohana in need.
Knudsen believes that other kids can make a difference in their communities, too, if they put their minds to it.
“Believe in yourself and never give up,” Knudsen said. “You can ask others for help if needed. If we can help each other, we will all be OK. I hope to inspire others to spread kindness too, and I’ll ask them ‘What can you do today to uplift someone?’”
Emilia Knudsen’s father, Dan Knudsen, said he is very proud of his daughter.
“She is compassion and kindness in action,” Dan Knudsen said. “An amazing leader. She truly cares and is doing something about it. If a 12-year-old can raise over $20,000 and make such a difference in her community by spreading kindness, maybe I can do something too to uplift someone during these most difficult times.”
In 1995, The Prudential Spirit of Community Award was created by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), which honors middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state, and national level.
Knudsen submitted her application for the award in November of 2020, and it was certified by her principal David Adams of Alaka‘i O Kaua’i Charter School who presented the award to her on Feb. 26.
“We are blessed as a unique project-based school to have such a selfless learner like Emilia grace our campus daily,” Adams said.
Knudsen was recognized for her efforts since March 2020 when the pandemic started and redirected her focus on how she could help out her community through these difficult times.
Knudsen has also qualified for the President’s Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country as recognized by the President of the United States.
Since November of 2020, Knudsen has hosted two events that have uplifted 80 children and their families for Keiki Christmas with presents and pictures with Santa, friends, and food and goodies for 200 kupuna for Valentine’s Day with presents and entertainment.
Currently, she is fundraising for scholarships for Reef Guardians of Hawai‘i for its Spring camp. Knudsen will fire dance this coming Saturday to raise more money.
“The keiki needs to spend more time in nature,” Knudsen said. “They spend too much time on a computer and should come out and play with their friends. At reef camp, they will learn really cool things about the ocean and the animals and learn how to take care of the reef and all the animals.”
Knudsen said she hopes to go to Denmark soon to spread kindness, Aloha, and fire dance.