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Student wins Golden Rule award

May 15, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

SHARPSBURG - Ben Keller's community service efforts are as prize-winning as his "topsy-turvy" apple pie.

The 16-year-old Sharpsburg resident sings to the elderly and gives gifts to needy kids at Christmastime. He fills Thanksgiving food baskets for underprivileged families, dips neighborhood dogs for fleas and ticks, and packs and transports food for a community outreach program.

His eight-year involvement with Washington County 4-H and the Sharpsburg 4-H Club has also helped mold Ben into a capable leader and role model for area youth.

And, thanks to his mom, he's one heck of a cook.

The son of Bill and Janet Keller has won blue ribbons at the Washington County Ag Expo for his baked goods, including his topsy-turvy apple pie.

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The toughest part of being so involved is finding time to squeeze everything in, said Ben, who manages to serve his community while maintaining high academic standards and school club memberships.

The junior at Boonsboro High School is the captain of the county It's Academic team, a participant in the Physics Olympics, and member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Students Against Drunk Driving, Spanish National Honor Society, tennis team, soccer team and foreign language club.

"We're very proud of Ben," his mother said.

He was recently honored as a JCPenney Golden Rule Award youth winner.

"I was really surprised," Ben said. "I always thought there were people who do more than I do."

Ben's dependable nature, "wealth of experience as a 4-H member," and time management, communication, problem-solving and leadership skills make him an asset to the 4-H organization, said Mary Ellen Waltemire, extension educator for 4-H youth development. Waltemire nominated Ben for the JCPenney award.

A panel of involved citizens and community leaders, independent of JCPenney and any co-sponsors, selected winners in four categories: adult, group, education and youth.

Youth winners received a crystal trophy, $500 awards for their organizations and $500 education scholarships.

The awards take their name from James Cash Penney's first store, The Golden Rule. The retail pioneer told his employees to treat customers as they would like to be treated. Penney believed in giving back to the community and in people helping each other, according to the awards ceremony program.

Ben Keller shares those philosophies.

"I suppose I like being a role model for the youth," he said.

Ben said he enjoys caroling and baking cookies for the elderly at Christmas because it makes the recipients feel good.

Serving as a teen counselor at the Washington County resident 4-H camp gives Ben a chance to exercise his people skills.

"I like coordinating different personalities to make activities run smoothly," he said.

He hopes to continue volunteering with 4-H through high school and after he returns from college, where he plans to study pharmacology.

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