by Gianna Guzzo, 2017 YES Participant - Friday, November 10, 2017
The NRA Foundation is celebrating #GivingTuesday 2017 by supporting the NRA’s Youth Education Summit Scholarship Fund with a five-week fundraising campaign. Leading up to the big day, we will be highlighting the positive impact that the NRA Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.) and it’s participants have on their communities, our country and the world. Starting on Tuesday, October 24, we’ll be sharing stories of our Y.E.S. alumni, by Y.E.S. alumni. Each Tuesday until #GivingTuesday on November 28, tune in to read one individual’s inspiring story of giving. We hope you’ll join us in recognizing these remarkable young men and women and think of these leaders when making your #GivingTuesday donation. 100% of your contribution funds NRA’s Youth Education Summit Scholarship Fund.
Commitment is an essential part of giving. Initiative, passion and ideas alone cannot create remarkable positive impacts without follow-through. Fortunately, the students who come to the NRA Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.) each year share an uncommon amount of commitment—their motivation and dedication to learn, lead and do more to create a better future for America and the world long outlasts their time at the week-long program. And Maggie Root is no exception. To this day she is committed to helping others at home and abroad, as well as to her education and her faith.
Prior to attending Y.E.S. in 2014, Maggie was already involved with multiple volunteer projects. As a member of the National Honor Society, she participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event. Working with children to help fundraise money for cancer patients was an experience that Maggie values greatly. “I'm so grateful that I decided to go,” she shares, “it opened my eyes to a group of people that need help that I had never known before.”
When I learned this about Maggie, I was truly touched. Last year I, too, became involved with Relay for Life and raised hundreds of dollars for this life saving organization. I can tell you from both of our experiences that it is an amazing feeling to know that your hard work is helping so many people all over the country.
Maggie’s efforts to serve others also extended beyond this country’s borders. When her church asked its members to donate baby blankets to be sent to Afghanistan through the Relief Society—the women’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Maggie immediately put her love and talent for sewing to work and made 13 blankets for children who didn't have homes or families. As someone who also loves to sew and often makes baby blankets for friends and family, this particular project of Maggie’s really inspired me. It showed me how I could take something as simple as my affinity for sewing and do something incredible for others.
As a committed student who served her community, country and world, Maggie was accepted to the Y.E.S. class of 2014 and travelled to Washington, D.C., that summer. Although she was nervous, she was ecstatic to be a part of this highly intellectual and prestigious program. Maggie was inspired by all of the students there, and she made many amazing friendships that she cherishes to this day. “Not once did I feel out of place or awkward, and I learned so much from all of them,” she explains. “I felt like the people I met were the cream of the crop—that those kids were going places. They knew how to debate, discuss and evaluate any topic that was given to them and it was so inspirational to me.”
During the program, Maggie also came to a revelation about impacting the world. “I realized that I needed to broaden my circle of understanding and get out in the community to make a difference,” she remembers. “We are surrounded by youth who don't care or don't realize the importance of their role in society, and being a part of Y.E.S. taught me that I—Maggie Root, a seemingly small, insignificant player—could actually make a big difference.”
After learning about some of the incredible programs that The NRA Foundation supports, Maggie decided to take some of them back to her own community. When she got home, she organized a Women On Target® event. After getting the necessary certifications and enlisting the help of her parents, Maggie hosted a successful event and remembers helping one woman in particular. This woman was originally just at the range with her husband and his friends, all experienced shooters. She felt out of place and was struggling to understand, so Maggie’s group invited her to join its event. “She went from being completely discouraged to having fun and actually learning and retaining her knowledge of firearm safety,” Maggie notes. “It was amazing to help her and all of the women feel more comfortable around firearms and see them having a good time while they were learning.” In addition her Woman On Target® event, Maggie also attended local Friends of NRA banquets and spoke about her incredible experiences at the Y.E.S. program.
Now at 21 years old and a student at Brigham Young University in Idaho, Maggie is studying to be an ultrasound tech with the goal of continuing to help people. But she recently took a break from schoolwork to participate in missionary service for her church. For 18 months Maggie lived in Florida, working with the Red Cross, Catholic food pantries, Jewish rabbis, and many other individuals across the state in what she says is her most fulfilling volunteer cause to date.
“It was one of the most life changing experiences that I have had, and I loved every minute of it,” Maggie emphasizes. “I learned the Spanish language so that I could really get to know and help the Hispanic population. It was so amazing to completely forget myself and solely focus on those that I could serve.”
Maggie is an inspiring young woman who has helped the world in so many ways already and is continuing doing so more each day. Despite being busy back at college now, she even took the time to help me, writing to me personally about preparing for college and sharing her advice on how to approach it. I feel so blessed to have been able to talk to Maggie and learn about how she is bettering the lives of people all over the world.
“My priorities in life are God, family, and Country,” Maggie concludes, “and I feel like my participation in the Y.E.S. program has helped me to live and become the woman I want to be in each one of those aspects.”
Create your own story of giving! Turn your intention into action and say “YES” to Y.E.S. by making a donation today at www.friendsofnra.org/Donate. 100% of your contribution made here to The NRA Foundation funds NRA’s Youth Education Summit Scholarship Fund. Through participation in the Y.E.S. program, students compete for $55,000 in college scholarships. That’s where you come in! Help us support the young men and women who will Lead the Legacy of freedom into the future. Visit www.friendsofnra.org/GivingTuesday today for more information, and invest in the next generation of Second Amendment champions.