These 30 rock
The 30 Columbians
For as long as she can remember, Tessa Vellek has had two passions: reading and helping others. So it just made sense to this eighth-grader to combine these passions by founding a charitable organization focused on literacy when she was 10 years old.
The organization, named Euphoria after what Tessa describes as “that happy feeling you get when you help others,” is run solely by Tessa, but friends and family help her with its projects. One of Tessa’s first initiatives with Euphoria was a book drive that included trick-or-treating for books rather than candy.
Tessa promotes literacy by regularly reading to elementary students. Through Euphoria, she has donated books to hospitals, schools and shelters and says she stopped counting the number of donations after the total reached 5,000. Her ongoing Books 4 Youth project has collected more than $2,500 for five local elementary schools to purchase books and jump-started summer reading programs at two of the schools.
Tessa’s efforts have earned her national attention. She was one of 24 recipients of the Nestle Very Best in Youth Award in 2005, an honor that included a $1,000 credit toward her charitable efforts. The chocolate company matched the $71,000 Tessa raised through a bike and walk event for Hurricane Katrina victims in September 2005. She was also one of Missouri’s two recipients of the 2007 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, earning her $1,000 and recognition in Washington, D.C.