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Veterans Support Student Non-Profit

Veterans Support Student Non-Profit

Savannah Lerian began her non-profit journey in the fifth grade. Her organization, "Go Change Me," began by collecting donations and spare change from Oaks Christian School’s middle and high school café with a simple yet impactful goal in mind: raising money to send children of military families to summer camps. 

Reflecting on her motivation, Lerian spoke of her two older brothers, one a navy veteran, and one currently serving in the army.  

"I have been going to summer camp at the YMCA since I was seven or eight. It was always a big part of my year, something I looked forward to,” she shared. “I heard my brother talking to my mom about struggling financially with military pay. My mom mentioned how grateful I should be to attend summer camp, which made me realize some families couldn’t afford it. I wanted to fix that." 

After her non-profit's inaugural year, Lerian had her initial collaboration with Rolling Thunder®, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting veterans, actively serving members and their families, as well as educating the public on POW-MIA issues.  

She was invited to speak about "Go Change Me" at an event, which led to an additional invitation to participate in a parade in Washington, D.C. Lerian stayed involved with the members she originally travelled with to D.C., continuing to update Rolling Thunder® on her non-profit progress through the years.  

Having embarked on an impactful art project centered around memorializing World War II veterans, she was inspired by a photograph of an eagle she had recently taken. She sought to honor the men and women who have served, including her brothers.  

They’ve always shared with me how important it is to remember the names of those who have served." Being dyslexic and handwriting 446 names from WWII casualties, Lerian faced a unique artistic challenge.  

“I had to be very purposeful when writing all the letters and had to make sure they were all spelled correctly. They probably added an extra hour to the process, but it was definitely worth it.” 

Upon completing her project for this year’s high school art show “Untitled,” Lerian sent an invitation to the event to her friends at Rolling Thunder®, resulting in 12 members attending to show their support.  

“It was exciting to see the same guys I was in the parade with in sixth grade. I’m grateful they wanted to come out,” she said. 

Aiming to continue "Go Change Me" throughout college, collaborating with her cousin who will be a freshman at Oaks Christian School next year, her post high school goals are to be a veterinarian. 

Her other art pieces at this year’s showcase reflected her passions for animal conservation and journalism, featuring a white rhino and a penguin. Having developed her skills through her time as a yearbook photographer alongside taking photography I, II, and III at Oaks Christian, her journey exemplifies her spirit of service and dedication, creating a lasting impact on her community and honoring the legacy of those who have served in the military.  

Photo: Savannah Lerian in fifth grade and again as a senior with members of Rolling Thunder.