Tuesday, May 4, 1999

Isle youth wins
national honor for
spreading the
joy of reading

The Radford High School
junior is one of America's
top 10 youth volunteers

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service


WASHINGTON -- Andrew Allshouse wanted only to spread his love of reading to less fortunate youngsters. To his surprise, his passion for books and for helping others has won the Honolulu teen-ager $6,000 and national recognition as a youth volunteer.

Allshouse, 16, this week was named one of America's top 10 youth volunteers in a competition sponsored by the Prudential Insurance Company and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

The Radford High School junior, who moved to Honolulu seven months ago when his Navy father was transferred there, was honored for collecting and dispersing more than 1 million books in the past nine years.

Aaron Romero, an 8th-grader at Honolulu's Moanalua Middle School who dresses up as a clown and performs magic shows at hospitals and homeless shelters, also was honored as Hawaii's other top youth volunteer.

Both boys won $1,000 and a free trip to Washington for winning the state competition. Allshouse pocketed another $5,000 and an engraved gold medallion for taking top honors.

Both Andrew and his mother, Candace Allshouse, were stunned and delighted when they learned of the award this week.

"You could have knocked us over with a feather," said Candace Allshouse.

Andrew Allshouse became an avid reader after he punctured both eardrums as a child and was left with damaged hearing. When he was old enough to realize other children had nothing to read, he began collecting used books and funneling them to libraries and schools.

Over the years, Allshouse has started libraries in Scotland, Uganda (72 of them), California and New Mexico.

He is continuing his passion in Hawaii, where he is now collecting books for the Crawford Nursing Home on Oahu's north shore and a YMCA after-school program.

He also has collected and dispersed eyeglasses for the poor, started a youth group that does community service and worked for the Special Olympics.

"I truly believe that opening a book opens up so many doors," he said. "Despite my hearing loss, I'm in AP (advanced placement) classes, and it's because of reading."

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