Hail to the (Little) Chief! Youngster Gains Presidential Seal of Approval

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A Huntingdon Valley girl gets President Barack Obama's attention for her volunteeer work.

Mitzvah Hero: Isabella Duarte, 11, recently received the President's Volunteer Service Awardhe Huntingdon Valley resident was honored for performing more than 100 hours of community service.

What It’s All About: Isabella, daughter of Lou and Stephanie Duarte — and older sis to Phillip, 8 — devotes time to charities that benefit young children with cancer, including Kisses for Kyle, Sara Smiles and Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. She also bakes to raise money for Share Our Strength: No Kid Hungry and the Ronald McDonald House. It's no surprise that she lists "bake and take baking classes" among her favorite things to do. "It is such a great feeling to see kids happy eating what I baked," she says.

Not a One-Time Thing: Isabella is a veteran when it comes to helping out.  At 5 years old, she was already donating her shorn locks from haircuts to Locks of Love, a children’s cancer cause, which she has gone back to with each of her subsequent  haircuts. At 7, she joined other kids from Congregation Adath Jeshurun’s Hebrew school in packing containers of food for the Jewish Relief Agency to deliver to seniors in need.

Good for Her: Making a difference in other people’s lives makes her see a difference in her own, Isabella relates. "It makes me happy when I help others.”

She also is proud of the heritage that fuels her: “I feel so lucky that I am Jewish. Judaism has taught me tikkun olam, healing the world.” 

Even better if that healing process comes with a sweet aftertaste: “My dream is to be a baker and donate time and money to different charities,” says Isabella.

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