A North Gwinnett High School graduate has received a $25,000 scholarship recognizing his efforts to give back to children in need during the pandemic. 

Early during the onset of COVID-19, Sugar Hill resident Collin Ladina was delivering food to the North Gwinnett Co-op when he identified a specific need that wasn’t yet being met.  

“I saw firsthand how helpful donations were in having a positive impact for adults, but I didn’t notice anything being done for the kids,” Ladina said. 

To help children weather the pandemic, Ladina created Collin’s Care Kits to provide activity kits for children in families financially affected by COVID-19. The drawstring backpacks included coloring books, crayons, bubble wands, play dough and jigsaw puzzles. Ladina raised $400 in donations to put kits together, an amount he matched out of his own pocket from money earned from a part-time job.

“I really wanted to just show support for the kids and let them know they could continue to be themselves in a time that was hard for many families,” Ladina said. “It really motivated me to be the one to do that for them.”

Ladina was recognized for his efforts by financial services organization Equitable through a 2021 Equitable Excellence Scholarship. Ladina said the $25,000 award will reduce the stress of paying for college — he will attend the University of Georgia, where he plans to major in finance and economics. 

Ladina hopes to continue assembling and distributing care kits within the Athens area. 

“To me, the care kits don’t have a ceiling,” Ladina said, “and I just want it to grow as much as possible. I want to bring joy into the lives of kids through these activities.”

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Deanna Allen has served as editor of the North Gwinnett Voice since June 2021. Effective communication and creative design are her passions.

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