Dylan Sanders went through several firsts in 2017—he started his first year of high school at Odessa High School, he got his first girlfriend, and most recently, Sanders was honored by Family Promise of Odessa for being their first youth volunteer.

Family Promise of Odessa is a local nonprofit organization that helps provide homeless families with food, shelter and other basic needs.

Sanders said he started volunteering with the organization in 7th grade, as part of volunteer hours for the college preparation program AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, and said while he originally wasn’t too keen on spending his time volunteering, he really came around to it once he started helping others.

“I felt really good knowing that I was doing something for the community,” Sanders said. “I feel like I’m making a difference.”

FPO Day Center Director Kara Evanson Dorethy said Sanders is an outstanding young man, and they decided to give him the award as recognition for the work he’s put in with the organization over the years.

“He is passionate about giving back to the community and genuinely cares for others,” FPO Day Center Director Kara Evanson-Dorethy said about Sanders. “I think Dylan is a future philanthropist and we are so fortunate to have Dylan as a volunteer in our agency.”

Part of Sanders’ volunteering includes helping out at FPO’s monthly fundraisers at various restaurants, helping to sell raffle tickets which go towards funding the organization, as well as helping out with other laborious tasks, such as mowing the lawn or helping at garage sales.

“He’s there first thing in the morning until the very end of the event,” Evanson-Dorethy said. “He’s a very dedicated young man.”

In addition to volunteering with FPO, Sanders said he also spends time every other Saturday helping out at the food pantry at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Sanders’ mother, Guylene Sanders, said he enjoys helping out at the food pantry because it allows him to interact more personally with the clients who go there.

“I’m really proud of him,” Guylene Sanders said. “He really enjoys it and I’m glad that he enjoys it.”

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