Youth Service America select four Summer of Service winners

From left to right: Scott Gerson, Leon Harris, Will Thomas, Omnia Saed and Julia Burks.

(WJLA) - Four local teens who understand the importance of giving back were given a special award recently.

Youth Service America selected the teens, among dozens of applicants, as Summer of Service award winners. Each is taking home a check for $1,000.

“Kids in this area of Washington, Maryland, Virginia are deeply involved in their communities, finding their voice, taking action and having impact on big important problems,” says Steve Culbertson, Youth Service America president.

Will Thomas, 14, helps military members and the families of fallen soldiers.

“I decided they need to know that we're supporting them at home and if need anything we have their back,” he says. “It just makes me feel good to know I'm doing something that's making a real difference.”

Julia Burks, 15, provides weekend meals for kids who might not otherwise eat.

“There is suffering even in the best places,” she says.

Omnia Saed, 17, encourages teens to speak up about important issues.

“Teenagers need a place to talk - they want to talk. We just have to give them funnel to do it,” she says.

And 17-year-old Scott Gerson runs a bocce team at his school where all students are welcome.

“You can't tell when playing who has disabilities and who doesn't and really doesn't matter, playing together,” he says.

The students plan to use their awards to help even more people and say that this is just the beginning.

“It means a lot,” says Saed. “Most importantly, it’s representation of the potential we can have.”