You BET: South Holland 15-year-old’s troop support honored
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 1, 2012 9:18PM
Glennita Williams gets ready backstage at the BET Black Girls Rock Awards. The show will air at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4.
Updated: December 3, 2012 6:47AM
When the Chicago Sun-Times first introduced the world to Glennita Williams, the 11-year-old South Holland youth was trying to strongarm Twinkie donations for a best friend’s dad and his brigade in Iraq.
Four years later, those initial efforts have ballooned into her nationally lauded nonprofit, America’s Guardian Angels. And its 15-year-old CEO is about to be introduced to a much larger audience.
She’ll be celebrated Sunday on BET Network’s annual “Black Girls Rock!” tribute, alongside actress Kerry Washington; musicians Alicia Keys, Dionne Warwick and Janelle Monae; writer/motivator Susan Taylor, and international humanitarian Dr. Hawa Abdi of Somalia.
“A few weeks ago, I got an email I was one of 10 girls nominated for their M.A.D. [Making A Difference] Girls Award, and three would win,” the sophomore honor student at Thornwood High School said Thursday.
“Then I called my mom one day from school and she was screaming. I knew I must have won. I was so excited,” she said. “I just knew it was another opportunity for me to get the word out about what I’m doing, so that more people can help support our troops who need it.”
Glennita came up with Operation Twinkie in 2008 after the friend’s dad told her that in Iraq, he really missed the creme-filled snacks. Spearheading a drive at her school, Glennita sent him 1,000.
She’s sent thousands more since — 600 pounds worth — to Afghanistan and Iraq. Along the way, she established the nonprofit, which has sent the troops $14,000 worth of snacks and personal care items; distributed care items and books and taken a choir to Jesse Brown VA Hospital; and held a Christmas party with gifts and entertainment for local veterans. Her awards include one from President Barack Obama.
For the Oct. 13 BET taping, she was flown to New York and treated like a celebrity.
“Alicia Keys was sitting in front of me, Dionne Warwick to the side of me. I was interviewed by Janelle Monae. I talked to Missy Elliott,” Glennita said. “I was humbled by the successes of all those African-American women. But I just wanted them to know what I was doing so that if they had it in their hearts to donate, they could.”