Palmetto Bay resident and student Taylor (Tae Tae) Davis was awarded a $1,000 scholarship on July 7 as part of a nationwide program by Kohl’s Department Stores to honor deserving volunteers for making a positive impact on their communities.
The program’s aim is assisting deserving youth to pursue a college education, according to Julie Gardner, Kohl’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
“Kohl’s has rewarded thousands of amazing kids through the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program and, this year alone, we are recognizing nearly 2,200 standout youth who are making a difference with their volunteer time,” Gardner said.
“From feeding the homeless at a local shelter, collecting goods for the less fortunate or volunteering time at a community garden, these kids are making a huge impact on communities nationwide. We are inspired by their stories and are thrilled to recognize their service.”
Taylor Davis, 13, founded the nonprofit organization The Traveling Canvas and has helped raise more than $80,000 in art supplies to save art education in public schools and bring art to homeless children.
She was thrilled with the news of the scholarship.
“I was super excited,” Davis said. “It was amazing to hear that I had been chosen for such a award. It’s really great that Kohl’s recognized kids in their efforts to make the world a better place in their own way.
“It’s really going to help me, because not only is it going to help spread the word about my cause, it brings up the self esteem of the Traveling Canvas. It makes us feel like ‘yes, we can do this.’ If it wasn’t for my teacher, Miss Floyd, I wouldn’t have found out about it. It’s been a great opportunity for me.”
Teacher Andrea R. Floyd had Taylor as a student when she was in the seventh grade Gifted Language Arts class at Southwood. She wrote a letter of recommendation about her efforts in the community.
“The reason I’m so eager to recognize Tae Tae’s efforts is because I hope other students will be inspired by her story,” Floyd said. “The different between Tae Tae and a lot of students who have great ideas is that Tae Tae took the extra step to put her great ideas into action.
“I think she’s an incredible role model for children who are younger than her, as well as children who are older, about how a simple idea can translate into something incredible when you follow through with it. So often people in general will sit there and reminisce about great ideas they had, but that’s where they stop.”
Taylor’s mother, Claudette Davis, is understandably proud of her daughter, but also has high praise for the other competing youngsters and for Kohl’s as well.
“The fact that she made it this far is remarkable, and an honor,” Claudette Davis said. “All the kids are winners. Every single kid who is recommended for this is a winner — just the fact that they’re doing anything to help communities.
“For a department store to do something like that for kids is great. There’s a ton of scholarship programs out there, but there aren’t a ton of them that recognize the young kids, 13 and under.”
Taylor’s former teacher says she thinks it is important for the community to continue to support and encourage Taylor because it’s so easy to get burned out and overwhelmed.
“I want Tae Tae to know that there are so many people who have seen the difference she’s making, and who believe in her and don’t want her to stop the incredible things she’s doing,” Floyd said.
“It’s like a ripple effect. Even the youngest homeless children she’s given a pillowcase to, we have no idea — 10 years from now, 20 years from now, even one year from now — how that simple pillowcase will translate to them paying it forward in acts of kindness that they will be compelled to do because someone was kind to them when they needed it most,” she said.
“We’ll never truly know the impact of some of the activities that Tae Tae has initiated, but we can certainly all agree that she has made the world a better place.”
Taylor is still in the running for the national level of the competition, in which Kohl’s will award an additional $9,000 to 10 winners and also donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization on each national winner’s behalf.