FOREST LAKE, Minn.--Ava McCarver is a nine year old girl with a big heart. When Ava was five her kindergarten class went to visit a nursing home. Ava loved spending time with residents and making them happy and after her first trip to the nursing home she was ready to go back as a volunteer.

Ava has been volunteering ever since and was named Birchwood's Volunteer of the Year in 2012. Ava often plays games with residents and works withthem on various craft projects.

While volunteering Ava decided that she wanted to branch out and write and publish a short story to raise money for the resident councilat Birchwood. She wrote and illustrated a book about squirrels that grow older and move to the senior living facility. Ava and her family were able to find a local printer to donate their time and supplies to print copies of Ava's book. Book sales have raised overfivehundred dollars for Birchwood's residents.

Ava has learned that something as small as a hug can make a huge difference in someone's life. She is a young lady with wisdom beyond her years and believes that "if everyone helped make another person smile each day, everyone would be happier".

You can make a positive difference in someone's life at any age. For information about volunteer opportunities near you visit HandsOn Twin Cities.