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Student Named HGTVs Community Crusader

Written by Kate Harner

avery_hgtv.JPGWillimantic, CT -- Avery Doninger, a sophomore at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been named HGTV's (Home & Garden Television) Community Crusader for September.

Doninger, a 19 year old from Burlington, CT, designed her own major in international development and social justice with a minor in peace and human rights. Her career goal is to work with a nonprofit in international disaster relief.

Before attending college, Doninger spent 10 months serving in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), a program focusing on local and national community service through direct leadership. Before starting their service programs, members are trained in first aid, CPR and other emergency skills.

"Volunteering and helping people is something I have always loved to do," says Doninger. "I think we all have a responsibility to contribute to our community. I don't want to leave Willimantic without making a positive impact."

Visitors of the television network's website ( choose the HGTV Community Crusaders by sharing stories about local volunteers who dedicate themselves to improving their communities. The program is part of the "HGTV Change the World. Start at Home" campaign, an initiative started in 2008 that renovates homes and public spaces in America. Each crusader receives a cash award and is featured in a campaign video that airs on television and online. In addition, HGTV makes a cash contribution for every crusader to its campaign partner, Rebuilding Together, which is the largest nonprofit organization in the United States revitalizing and preserving homes and neighborhoods.

Doninger started volunteering at the Windham No Freeze Shelter last year before becoming a staff member at the shelter. She holds an on-campus job in the Center for Community Engagement, an office that provides students with service-learning programs and opportunities to apply academic knowledge to real-world circumstances. Doninger is a weekly volunteer at the Covenant Soup Kitchen and is a member of the Windham Harm Reduction Coalition, Eastern's Habitat for Humanity, the Peace and Human Rights Club and People Helping People. This past summer, Doninger spent six weeks in Leogane, Haiti, providing disaster relief through All Hands Volunteers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing volunteers to disaster areas to  assist survivors.


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