By Cassidy Blackwell
Julia Gilmore, 16-year-old Science Hill student, continues to raise the bar in community service with her eighth annual fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Project Energizer is collecting batteries, chargers, electronics, gift cards and cash donations for the children of St. Jude to have functioning devices and toys. Gilmore’s goal is to raise $15,000 of items and donations by Sept. 15. By Sept. 6, Project Energizer had reached over $12,000 bringing her total amount raised for St. Jude to nearly $50,000.
“I feel like people don’t really understand the importance of community service until they do it and they meet with people who are less fortunate than them and feel that feeling of giving back,” said Gilmore.
Gilmore is a junior on her way to earning an AP Capstone Diploma. She is involved in Beta Club, student government and the varsity cheer team while also volunteering at St. Jude, the Ronald McDonald House and other local organizations including Grace Fellowship Church.
Gilmore’s dedication to service began after she spent time in the hospital as a child.
“When I was really little, I was in and out of the hospital, pretty sick,” said Gilmore. “I would have volunteers that would come in and just give their time to me which made me feel really special.”
The first service project Gilmore completed was creating tie blankets, which she hand-delivered to children at St. Jude. Gilmore was only 9 years old. Although she did not know much, the support of her community kept her going. Gilmore remembers speaking with patients and hearing how meaningful her actions were. Each year since then, Gilmore has held annual fundraisers for St. Jude.
At 10 years old, Gilmore met Marlo Thomas, actress and activist whose father founded St. Jude. Thomas taught Gilmore how to handle a large-scale fundraiser giving advice on getting people involved, attending to her audience and making donations easy.
Gilmore recently created a website for her work entitled “Gilmore Giving Tree.”
“I created it as a nonprofit for people to go on the website and learn more about me and my history in community service and what I do in Johnson City as well,” said Gilmore.
Gilmore noticed that with the advancement of technology, online is the best way to reach people. The website is an excellent resource as it includes the projects Gilmore is working on as well as links to more ways to get involved in community service.
Gilmore is a Presidential Service Gold Award Recipient and a Distinguished Finalist and Bronze Medal Winner of the 2021 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
Another accomplishment Gilmore has achieved is recently placing in the top five of Miss Teen International U.S.
“That was really life-changing because I got to meet other girls from all over the world who actually competed here in Kingsport,” said Gilmore. “I got to talk a lot about my platform and listen to other girls about what they’re doing in their communities.”
Gilmore serves tirelessly and humbly. She plans on completing a biology degree after graduating high school and would like to care for mothers and children.
Gilmore is a light to her community and will undoubtedly go on to even more amazing things.
She says service is “something everybody should do at least once in their lifetime no matter where you are or what community you live in.”
Follow Gilmore on Facebook at GilmoreGivingTree.org or on Instagram at _juliagilmore. Her website is www.gilmoregivingtree.org.