Amanda Kruse, a senior at Mount Carmel Academy, has received several national and local awards and has spent more than 1,300 hours performing community service.

Kruse has participated in many volunteer activities and with numerous agencies including: St. Michael’s Special School, the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, the American Heart Association, Down Syndrome Buddy Walk, St. Jude’s Dream House, Mount Carmel Academy Camp, Angel’s Place, Thanksgiving Turkey Day Race, Our Lady of Perpetual Help St. Joseph’s Altar and the AAU Junior Olympics.

“It is difficult to just pick one charity (as my favorite) because each has taught me to be grateful for my blessings,” says Kruse. “However, the Ronald McDonald House in New Orleans has been my most rewarding.”

As an infant, Kruse was transported by air to Dallas for a liver transplant. Her family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas and, though she doesn’t remember much about the experience, her mom had kept a diary since her birth. Total strangers volunteered their time to take care of the Kruse family’s needs so that they could devote their time to her.

Now, at least twice a month, she cooks jambalaya, cornbread and angel food cakes for family members of children staying at area hospitals.

“I feel like I have gained a sense of responsibility by volunteering my time to organizations,” Kruse says. “I have learned not to take anything for granted.”

Kruse says the most fun she’s had volunteering was for St. Michael’s Special School. It was the middle of February and the kids were employed at separating donated Mardi Gras Beads and selling them to krewes. “I set a goal of collecting 1,000 pounds of beads,” she says.

Kruse sent text and Facebook messages to everyone she knew for bead donations. She made her entire family go to the parades to help her collect beads. She even put up signs and made a miniature float for her father’s office.

The day after each parade, Kruse walked the parade route from the night before collecting beads. When Endymion was cancelled for Mardi Gras 2010, Kruse didn’t stop collecting beads. In fact, she collected beads despite the bolts of lightning under the oak trees on Bonnabel Boulevard. Her final tally was a little short of the 1,000 pounds she wanted to collect, but she still collected an impressive 843 pounds. The people at St. Michael’s couldn’t believe it.

Ever since the second grade, Kruse has wanted to go to Louisiana State University. She hopes to become an attorney and criminal defender in order to help the community and those who need it most, those who have been wrongly convicted or wrongly accused.