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Jefferson Award Winner: Evan Kleinow

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Jefferson Award Winner Evan Kleinow

Patch Grove, Wis. (WXOW) - 900 service hours, 600 lives impacted, and $4,500 saved… All thanks to one man. That man is Evan Kleinow, the most recent recipient of the Jefferson Award.

He's being honored for his long-time role as a volunteer camp counselor. And it's not something that everyone would embrace. "I don’t know anybody who wants to give up their vacation time to spend three days and two nights in the woods with 6th graders,” laughed Kristi Petrowitz, who nominated Evan for the award.

It can be described as part hiking, part history, part crash-course in outdoor survival. For the past 15 years, Evan has helped curate a 3-day camping adventure for students at River Ridge School District. And by now, his commitment is non-negotiable. "I always tell work, I'm going. And if I'm not allowed... write me up," he laughed. The fresh air and time spent with a fishing pole is something Evan thinks all kids could benefit from. "It pushes these kids out of their comfort zone. They get three days from mom and dad, from TV and Facebook and cell phones.”

"Having that extra adult who’s volunteering makes such a difference in our budget," said Kristi Petrowitz, who nominated Evan for the award. She explained that River Ridge is a small school district, and without Evan's involvement, the camping program may have been cut. His volunteer hours have saved the district at least $4,500. “He’s not only touched so many kids' lives, he's saved the district so much money," added Mrs. Petrowitz. "He’s kind of an unsung hero, he’s a local kid who has brought so much to our little school."

Evan explains his involvement simply, he said, to be a part of something worthwhile makes you feel good. And he encourages others to seek that out. "I think everybody is capable of giving in some way. You might not have a specific skill, but anybody can help out, it doesn't need to be some huge thing."

If you know a volunteer who is making a difference in the community nominate them for a Jefferson Award by clicking here.