SOUTH HOLLAND | At age 11, Glennita Williams' first project for military personnel was to send 1,000 Twinkie snack cakes to soldiers in Afghanistan.
But Williams, who is now 16 and a sophomore at Thornwood High School, has seen her projects on behalf of soldiers and military veterans grow to new levels.
After starting with Twinkies, Williams created a nonprofit foundation called America’s Guardian Angels in 2009, and it has grown to take on many projects to benefit current and former military personnel.
Her mother, Anita, said Glennita is organizing a fundraiser to purchase prosthetic limbs for soldiers who lost arms or legs in combat.
She also makes regular visits to the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital in the western suburbs, and plans to visit the Jesse Brown Hospital for veterans in Chicago soon.
Glennita's efforts have earned her some national recognition. She won the Black Girls Rock MAD (Making A Difference) Award presented by the Black Entertainment Television network.
That cable television network recently brought Glennita to New York for an interview for an awards show that was broadcast on Sunday, and Glennita told her mother she liked that her local efforts got some national recognition.
“They treated her like a celebrity, but she was really pleased that people learned about her work,” Anita Williams said.
She also received a $2,500 donation from the company that manufactures Crest toothpaste, which will be used by the Guardian Angels foundation to support its projects on behalf of veterans.
The money will be needed, Willliams said, as her daughter is planning more projects to benefit military people.
“This is going to go on for some time,” Williams said. “She doesn’t plan to stop. She thinks they deserve our respect and our help.”
This New York trip was not Glennita's first recognition.
She visited Washington, D.C. in 2011 to receive the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
Glennita Williams also received the Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama, and the Homefront Hero Award from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.