February 24, 2016 Edition

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Tennison stresses importance
of community service

Hoxie High School senior Taylor Tennison hangs a Make-A-Wish poster on a bulletin board at the school. Community service has been a big part of Tennison's life during his high school career, including recruiting other students to serve.

Gretchen Hunt

For Taylor Tennison community service projects have become a way of life.

Whether the Hoxie senior is organizing a Make-A-Wish team, helping recruit new teen members for the March of Dimes or serving a meal to the needy, he strives to help others while at the same time being a good role model to others around him.

"I think community service is important for anyone who can give back," he said. "Even the littlest thing can make a difference, and if we all pitch in a little, we can change the world."

One event that stands out for Tennison is the Christmas party that he and fellow Student Council members host for the students in Hoxie's self-contained room.

"We take them presents and eat with them and play with them," Tennison said. "It's the highlight of their year, and really it's the highlight of mine."

HHS Counselor Donna Pinkston shared Tennison's resume, which contains project after project he has worked at or helped coordinate.

"He has over 400 hours of community service," she said. "Colleges love to see community service."

Tennison, who is the son of Alan and Lisa Tennison of Hoxie, plans to attend the University of Central Arkansas at Conway and major in marketing and public relations. He said community service not only looks good when applying for colleges and scholarships, but it also helps develop skills that are beneficial.

He said participating in the Ralph Joseph Youth Leadership Program and a Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Seminar made a major impact on him. After going as an ambassador to HOBY, he went back as a junior counselor and is now the director of Northeast Arkansas recruitment, as well as a member of the fundraising committee.

He has a "Sunny Side of Leadership" brunch scheduled at The Studio in Downtown Walnut Ridge on March 18 to raise money for HOBY. Doors will open at 9 a.m., and the event will officially kick off at 9:30 a.m. The cost will be $30 per person and will include a catered breakfast by Mel Fender.

Tennison will speak about HOBY, and Fran Cavenaugh will be the keynote speaker. She will speak about how to make the workplace more productive and efficient. Anyone interested in attending, or sending their employees, can email arhobynorth@gmail.com or call Tennison at 870-679-0662.

He also recently participated in the March of Dimes Prom Fashion Show and serves as the chairman of new admissions for the March of Dimes Chain Reaction Youth Council.

Pinkston said Tennison can make a big difference because he always finds others who are willing to help, as well.

"He not only volunteers but he also gets other volunteers," Pinkston said. "It is hard to tell Taylor no."

Volunteering has benefitted Tennison in many ways, including making connections and having opportunities to do things like attend the Craighead Electric Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. Mostly, though, he said he likes the way it makes him feel.

"It gives you a sense of belonging," he said.

He said his first community service project was as a sixth-grader when he helped serve the Thanksgiving meal at New Life Cathedral Church in Hoxie.

"I saw an announcement about it and thought it would be fun," he said. "That kind of got me hooked."

Pinkston encourages all high school students to find ways to serve in their community. She also encourages community groups who need volunteers to contact local school counselors.

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