MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Sometimes it's enough just to survive poverty and adversity. But for one young lady, that wasn't enough. It's her life mission to give back to her community, and in a big way. So big in fact, that she's preparing to head to our nation's capitol, as one of only two students in Tennessee to earn a chance at being named "America's Top Youth Volunteer."
Alexus Fraser, 13, is a seventh grader at Woodstock Middle School. Fraser also leads a used school uniform collection drive for students who don't live with their parents. Alexus also volunteers for numerous food drives, and helped raise money for the Ronald McDonald House.
"I've volunteered for a few races like a domestic violence race because I've seen domestic violence for myself from my parents, and I know what it can do to families," she said.
That is why you might notice most of her volunteer activities and advocacy are a sort of reverse mirror to the life of poverty and adversity she grew up in before she was adopted by her aunt and uncle.
And then I was an advocate about meth, against substance abuse; how substance abuse and domestic violence go hand-in-hand," she said. "And, to encourage kids whose parents use these things to just keep on going - don't let the troubles get them down."
Despite Alexus' rough start in life, she's now a shining example. She's on the honor roll, and already the recipient of the 2009 National Civil Rights Museum Keeper of the Dream Award, as well as the Presidents Volunteer Service Award.
She's also been named a state honoree in Prudential's Spirit of Community awards program, which is the nation's largest awards program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
For for Alexus, it's not the awards that drive her to help others, but the example her birth parents set.
"I learned from their mistakes that I don't need to make the same mistakes, because if you have children it affects the family more than it affects yourself and it's just really selfish," she said. "It makes me feel good that I'm helping my community and giving back to the neighborhood. It just makes me feel like I'm doing my part."
Alexus heads to Washington, D.C. in May for the gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. If she's chosen as of the 10 National Honorees out of the 102 students in the running, she'll win $5,000, and another $5,000 will be donated to the charity of her choice.
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