Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Sunday, February 25, 2018

muffin-maker-webDavid Albright, 13, of Milford, packages freshly baked muffins for donation to the city’s homeless shelter recently with help from mom Megan and his sister, Erin, 11. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

MILFORD – Five thousand muffins, give or take.

That’s how many muffins 13-year-old David Albright estimates he has baked over the past five years for the needy at the city’s homeless shelter.

For his initiative, David recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

David’s unusual story of generosity, persistence and kindness boils down to a simple motivation, “I just thought it would be nice to help,” he said.

It all started when, at the age of 8, David passed the local Beth-El Center’s homeless shelter on the drive between his home and St. Mary School, where he is now in eighth grade. He noticed a man sleeping in his truck. It was a snowy day near Christmas, and the image made a lasting impression.

The family heard about the shelter’s No Freeze program, which seeks donations of coffee and muffins during the cold winter months. So David, who loves to bake, decided to help.

“I just started making muffins and delivering them to the Beth El Shelter; and it became like a weekly thing,” he said.

“It’s nice. It helps people, and it’s fun to do,” he reflected. “Sometimes I see them [the residents] outside and they say ‘thank you.’”

After the first exchange with some of the shelter’s residents, David began to ratchet up his weekly donation to two deliveries of a dozen muffins, and even reached out to some friends who now make muffins at their homes.

No strangers to volunteering, David and his brother, Alec, a student at Notre Dame High School in West Haven, have been collecting and donating Halloween costumes for underprivileged children for many years. Alec also received the award for service, in 2011.

David said academics and service go hand-in-hand at his school. “They encourage us to live the message of Jesus,” David said.

Frank Lacerenza, principal of St. Mary School, who nominated David for the award, couldn’t be happier.

“The school is pleased that his Catholic education, combined with his upbringing by his parents at home, helped him realize how important service to his community is,” he said.

The school held an event in April at which he was presented with an engraved Prudential Spirit of Community silver medallion for his “exceptional initiative in service to the community.”

The awards program is conducted by Prudential Financial Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Prudential distributes the President’s Volunteer Service Award on behalf of the president.

In May, David traveled to Washington, D.C., for an all-expenses-paid trip to be recognized along with 102 honorees, two from each state and the District of Columbia, in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.

Honorees received $1,000, toured Washington, attended recognition events, met with state officials and visited a local shelter, among other things.

“I’m very proud of him,” said David’s father Jeff. “He’s helping his community by serving the needs of our homeless population.”

David plans to join his brother at Notre Dame in the fall. And to keep baking.

“I’m going to keep it up,” he said quietly. “They need it.”