BOUNTIFUL - Luke Hughes isn't your typical 8th grade student.
He not only comes to school every day and does his schoolwork, he cares about other people. That means finding positive ways to help them.
The Bountiful resident, a son of Amy and Don Hughes, was recently awarded The Prudential Spirit of Community Award. He was one of only two students in the state to be so recognized.
Nominated by his school, Luke donated 25 large-framed photographs, which he took himself, to decorate the halls of a newly-opened homeless veterans facility.
After hearing the Valor House, a residential facility for homeless veterans, had opened. he decided he wanted to do something to lift the residents’ spirits.
“I have three great-grandpas who were World War II veterans and lots of neighbors and family friends who have served their country,” he said.
“It always makes me sad to see veterans who are homeless,” Luke said.
When he learned that most of the walls at the Valor House were bare, due to budget constraints, he came up with an idea.
That idea was to fill them with framed photographs.
He spent summer days sanding and painting wood to make custom frames with the help of a neighbor, a Vietnam War veteran, and members of his Boy Scout troop.
Luke matted each picture, cut glass for each frame and mounted hardware on the back.
“I have been very blessed in my life and am grateful I was able to give back to such deserving people,” he said.
“This project was not a piece of cake,” he said. “I did not realize the amount of effort it would take to execute it.”
As a state honoree, he and a high school senior from Weber County will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C.
“He’s an amazing young man,” said Bountiful Junior High Principal Vickie Ingram. “He is just a kid who comes to school every day, and does what he’s supposed to do.
“He stands out as one of those kids who is kind, who cares about other people. His grades are amazing - he does a great job academically,” she said.
On top of that, Luke’s liked by everybody, “is one of those kids you wish you had a few more of,” Ingram said.
“If anyone deserves this award, it’s Luke. He’s not afraid to step up, to defend other people, to say 'this is important, I need to do this," she added.