Senior earns Outstanding Volunteer Award

Waking up at 5 a.m., senior Joey Zucker spends many mornings putting up signs of individual letters spelling “Happy Birthday” and fly guys, which are 25-foot tall inflatables that flail around when powered by a fan.
Zucker collects proceeds from these fundraising efforts for the Stardust Animal Sanctuary, which takes in animals that are unwanted or suffer from disabilities. He has raised over $6,500 since February and received the 2021 Outstanding Volunteer Award from the sanctuary.
“I enjoy my days doing the signs,” said Zucker. “It’s a win-win if you have people donate.”
Zucker initially volunteered for the Stardust Animal Sanctuary to complete the National Honor Society community service requirement but continued fundraising for reasons beyond his love for animals.
“The more important [reason] is that the animals that I’m helping have the same kind of problem that I have,” Zucker said.
Zucker has cerebral palsy, ADHD and epilepsy, disabilities that impact movement and the brain.
Laurie Kay, founder of the sanctuary, said in a video conference that she was confused when she suddenly started receiving $25 donations through PayPal. Joey Zucker’s mother Milene Zucker contacted Kay shortly after, telling her that Joey Zucker was putting up signs and fly guys to collect money.
“He’s such a humble person,” said Kay. “His heart is as big as the ocean, and he’s so genuine.”
The money is going towards four-board fencing, which keeps horses’ hooves from getting caught on the outdoor fence.
According to Kay, posts have to be dug to build new fencing.
“Ninety percent of the fencing is falling apart, and we need to redo that,” Kay said.
The sanctuary does not typically get large donations like this.
“It’s all the little donations that add up and … we’re blown away by him, so we needed to do something to thank him,” Kay said.
The sanctuary held a surprise ceremony on Sept. 20 to surprise Joey Zucker and recognize him with the award.
“We just brought him out by the fencing, and we thanked him and gave him the award,” Kay said.
According to Joey Zucker, receiving the award made him feel very accomplished.
“I like making people happy,” said Joey Zucker. “I like helping the animals at the same time.”