Youth from Bryant church receives nationwide volunteerism award

ColbesCrops3Colbe Cortez, 12, a member of First UMC Bryant, was named one of Arkansas’ top two youth volunteers of 2015 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

The seventh-grader used his Christmas gift money to rent a plot in First UMC Bryant’s community garden, then grew vegetables that he sold to benefit Our House, a shelter for working homeless families.

“In talking with my parents and a family friend about my decision, it was suggested that instead of just giving my Christmas money to a charity, I could invest that money and try to double my investment to help those in need,” Colbe said.

Colbe rented a garden plot, then bought seeds, plants and tools he had “no idea how to use.” At first, he doubted he could coax food out of the ground. But with the help of his family, he readied the soil and planted his vegetables, watered, fertilized and pulled weeds. A few weeks later, he harvested his first crop. Each Sunday, he sold vegetables at a church produce stand, and by the end of the summer, he was able to present the director of Our House with $584.06 from his vegetable sales. He plans to double the size of his garden next summer.

For information on all of this year’s honorees, visit