By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Preston Karp, a Shrewsbury High School (SHS) senior, met with the Board of Selectmen last month to talk about his work with the 9/11 Tribute Service, a Project 351 initiative to raise funds to support the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund (MMHF). The fund is a nonprofit that supports the families of military personnel with ties to Massachusetts who have died as a result of active duty service post 9/11/2001.
Karp explained that Project 351 is a youth-led nonprofit service organization in Massachusetts with a student ambassador from each of the 351 cities and towns within the commonwealth.
He was selected when he was in the eighth grade and has been active with the organization ever since. Ambassadors are students “who have demonstrated an exemplary ethic of service and the values of kindness, compassion, humility, and gratitude,” according to Project 351.
“Once you are an ambassador you are an alumnus forever. There are so many ways to participate after the first year which is awesome,” Karp said.
“I was honored to be selected to be the Shrewsbury ambassador in 2017 and then to continue to serve as a member of one of the alumni boards, the regional unity corps,” he said at the Board meeting. “We do three state-wide service campaigns throughout the year and right now it’s the 9/11 Tribute Service.”
Last year, 30 SHS students and 10 faculty travelled to the Be Like Brit Foundation, Grafton Community Harvest Project and Shrewsbury’s St. Anne’s Human Services to serve.
“The idea is that putting goodness into the world by serving the community will help combat the tragedy of the events that occurred on 9/11,” Karp told the Board. “This year, due to the pandemic, we are unable to serve on site.”
Instead, the students launched an online National Day of Service and are encouraging people to support the MMHF by making an online donation in the amount of $9.11.
Beth Casavant, the Board’s Chair, stated, “Preston, I want to commend you on continuing to find ways to serve even given the obstacles created by COVID-19…This gives everyone an opportunity to participate in supporting an excellent cause.”
Karp reported after the fundraiser: “Together, we raised a total of $1,680.24 for MMHF. This is truly incredible, and we are so grateful for the support of the community.”
Service is important to Karp. He is also passionate about musical theater and drama which he hopes to pursue professionally after studying musical theater in college.
It is a busy time for him and although it will be a different kind of senior year, as he has elected to begin the year remotely, he is still “very excited,” he said.