PIEDMONT -- While some students his age are hanging out or playing video games, Elijah Levy is making a difference.
Levy, a freshman at Piedmont High School, is what you might call a super-volunteer, and his work with the nonprofit organization MedShare is being recognized.
On May 3, Levy received a Presidential Volunteer Service Award at the Gold level for working 100 hours as a MedShare volunteer. He was honored at the MedShare Western Region's sixth Annual Volunteer Appreciation Party at the sorting and distribution center in San Leandro. He is the youngest MedShare worker to receive the honor.
"You get a certificate and a gold pin; it's quite nice," Levy said.
But it's not the first time Levy's volunteerism has been noted. Last year, at age 13, he became the youngest person to earn Bronze level presidential honors for 50 hours of sorting and boxing medical supplies at the group"s warehouse in San Leandro.
MedShare gathers surplus medical supplies that would normally be discarded and ships them to Third World nations where demand is great. The material can be items that may be out of date or portions of a medical kit that is unused. It runs the gamut, Levy said.
"Sometimes you get big biomedical things, and other times you get stuff as small as gauze," he said.
The organization was founded in 1998 by two volunteers, A.B. Short and Bob Freeman, who were concerned about people in impoverished countries in need of health care and the environmental threat posed by discarded medical supplies.
Over the past 15 years, MedShare has sent 950 giant shipping containers' worth of supplies to 95 countries and kept them out of landfills. Last month, the group sent supplies to Guatemala, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Uganda and Sierra Leone.
Receiving a presidential award is fitting for Levy, who actually met President Barack Obama in 2012 and presented him with a MedShare brochure. Levy got involved with the nonprofit group when he was required to put in at least 30 hours of community service for his bar mitzvah at an Oakland synagogue. He liked the work so much that he stayed on and began his quest to earn honors.
"It feels really great,' he said, "These are medical supplies that save lives. It feels really good that you are helping people."
When he is not volunteering, Levy runs on the Piedmont High School cross-country track team and sings in the school choir.
For more on MedShare or to volunteer, visit: http://www.medshare.org/about-us.