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Hailey Zunker isn’t afraid to tackle a big project if it means helping someone in need.

Following last year’s solar eclipse, Hailey, a student at Anderson Mill Elementary School in Moore, set out to collect eclipse glasses that would otherwise be discarded. She knew they could be put to good use at an orphanage in Uganda to help children who can witness an eclipse in 2018.

Hailey has one sister and is the daughter of Jessica and Wayne Zunker. She knew of the need in Uganda through a fellow church member who started the orphanage.

“She thought that instead of everyone here throwing them away, that she could send them there,” Jessica Zunker said.

The project, which Hailey organized on her own, collected more than 400 eclipse glasses in about a month.

“I feel like when I do stuff like that, it’s helping other people,” Hailey said. “I like helping people.”

Hailey excels in academics and enjoys serving in student leadership, anchoring the school’s morning news show, performing in honors choir, playing soccer and – her favorite – running with Girls on the Run. Her mother said Hailey is always thinking of others and putting their needs before her own.

“I like to be the person to encourage them and tell them they are loved by Jesus,” Hailey said.

Nomination excerpt

“Exceptional character, kindness, compassion and integrity are a few character traits Hailey Zunker exudes while making a difference at Anderson Mill Elementary and in the surrounding community. Hailey serves as a role model for her peers by committing herself to excellence in every area of her life. ... Her compassion for others is evidenced by her volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity and Operation Christmas Child through her church youth group. This year, Hailey initiated a unique community-wide outreach to collect over 400 solar eclipse glasses for an orphanage in Uganda. Hailey’s quiet demeanor, humble spirit, and selfless acts of kindness are admirable qualities that are sure to make her successful in life.”

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