ST. JOHNS, Fla. – A very impressive St. Johns 10-year-old got some much-deserved recognition Tuesday morning when she was named AAA's "School Safety Patroller of the Year" for Florida.
Lauren Leonard, a fifth grader at Patriot Oaks Academy, is a safety patrol captain. She was chosen for the award out of thousands of Florida safety patrollers.
Lauren earned patroller of the year honors for her leadership qualities and safety skills, and for helping students get in and out of school safely.
The honor, which included a $500 gift card, is one more line to add to Lauren's already impressive resume.
"I'm involved in Character Captains, safety patrol, I helped to raise money for Buddy Benches for our school. I've also donated Publix plastic bags to help make blankets for homeless, and then I also volunteer most of my time at the homeless shelters,” Lauren said. "I just like being a leader and showing people what I can do."
Lauren also helped organize fundraisers for the patrol programs at her school, including one that helped pay for the Patriot Oaks Academy’s first mascot.
Outside of her patrol work, she raised $60,000 for disabled veterans and volunteers with her Girl Scouts troop at the St. Francis House making dinners for the homeless.
AAA's School Safety Patroller Program is the largest safety program in the world.
Matt Nasworthy, AAA public affairs director for Florida, said there are about 679,000 AAA school safety patrollers nationwide.
"It's an integral part of safety in and around elementary schools,” Nasworthy said. “Every day, they're helping kids get in and out of cars in the car circle, get to class safely, helping folks be safe in the hallways and really establishing themselves as leaders in those elementary schools."
Nasworthy congratulated Lauren on Tuesday as she earned her award.
"We are so proud of her," he said. "She really does embody all of the qualities we look for in a patroller of the year."