An unusual clothes horse wins a trip to Washington, D.C.
May 23, 2008
For all of his hard work and ingenuity in founding and running a non-profit organization, Robert Malcolm didn’t score a date with the prom queen, but he did get to shake hands and chat with the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson.
Malcolm, a junior at Park City High School, received a trip to Washington, D.C., in early May and a $1,000 award from Prudential Financial for his charitable work in Park City. During the trip, Malcolm met Ferguson at an awards banquet held in honor of the top two young volunteers in each state as selected by Prudential Financial.
It took Malcolm years of hard work to reach the banquet. Now 16, Malcolm began the non-profit four years ago at the young age of 12. While getting some spring cleaning done around the house, Malcolm noticed a number of jackets that he and his family did not use. He decided that his family could hardly be alone in that situation and began to organize donation bins to collect the many unused ski jackets strewn around basements in Park City.
In some ways, said Malcolm, the organization, although he has consistently improved it, has changed little over the years. The key, for Malcolm, still lies in placing bins around town in high-visibility spots. "(It) worked really well just putting boxes all over the place," said Malcolm.
As the organization grew, Malcolm incorporated it as a non-profit and generally grew the outfit to its current size. Not only does his organization continue to collect clothes of all kinds, Malcolm also makes visits to Parley’s Park Elementary School where his group has spawned a satellite organization. Each year, Malcolm organizes a fencing tournament to benefit the organization and he also oversees clothing drop-offs to charitable organizations. Those groups include: the Navajo Reservation, the Road Home and others.
Prudential Financial first took notice of Malcolm’s work last year when he initially applied for the award. His initial application as a sophomore scored him the equivalent of an honorable mention, but did not launch Malcolm to the same level he attained this year. In fact, Malcolm expected a similar recognition this year and was surprised when he learned that he had been chosen for the award.
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Thanks to the rigors of an active high school junior, Malcolm did not get as much time in Washington, D.C., as he would have liked despite the fact that Prudential Financial picked up the tab for the trip for Malcolm and his father. The Malcolms left for their trip on a Saturday and returned that Monday. Although they got to tour the highlights of capital, Malcolm said the greatest benefit for him was meeting all the other winners.
"Some of them just had incredible projects," said Malcolm. That, at first, made him a little nervous about his own. But, he continued, after he relaxed a bit he enjoyed spending time with the other students from around the nation.
Malcolm and the other participants received their awards during a banquet held at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Even though the museum was officially closed, Prudential Financial arranged for the event to occur. Art Ryan, Prudential Financial Chairman, and Sarah Ferguson both addressed the crowd on the merits of volunteerism before each of the winning students received their awards.
Quoted in their press released, Ryan said that "Robert (is an) inspiring example of (a) young American who care(s) deeply about the needs of others and who (has) taken the initiative to help meet those needs." Malcolm plans to continue work on his charitable organization and is currently stockpiling winter clothing for next year’s change of seasons.