SPRINGFIELD TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – The WKBN Caring for Our Community campaign announced its Tom Holden Memorial Scholarship winners on Wednesday.

This was the 17th year of asking students to write a public service announcement for a local non-profit organization. The winner’s words get turned into something we air, and we believe the impact this year will be powerful.

The winning PSA was written by junior Nathan Baird of Struthers High School to raise awareness about the Help Network of Northeast Ohio.

The winning script will be produced by WKBN. You can watch it on WKBN 27 and FOX Youngstown. The winner and five runners-up will each be featured in commercials airing on WKBN throughout April and May.

“I was trying to convene that mainly anybody can be suffering from suicidal issues, whether they show signs or do their best to hide them,” Baird said.

Baird’s spot hits home with the Help Network, which says five people die of suicide every day around the state. That’s 1,800 families affected a year.

“Knowing that commercial, that PSA is going to save people’s lives is literally, I can’t say enough,” said Vince Brancaccio with the Help Network of Northeast Ohio.

Six winners were chosen from the 160 students who wrote entries this year. Their PSAs were about non-profit organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Meals on Wheels.

  • 2nd Place: Livia Laudermilt, a senior at Lowellville High School. Her entry featured: Meals on Wheels of Mahoning County.
  • 3rd Place: Sydney Rhodehamel, a senior at South Range High School. Her entry featured: Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County
  • 4th Place: Jayla Eastlake, a junior at TCTC. Her entry featured: Help Network of Northeast Ohio.
  • 5th Place (Tie): Kaylynn Thomas, a senior at Girard High School. Her entry featured: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mahoning Valley.
  • And Scott Cross, a senior home school student. His entry featured: The Brightside Project.

“So eye-opening to know that I had that much confidence in myself to go ahead and do something that I would never do,” Laudermilt said.

“I didn’t realize the full effect of it until I did my research and got to writing it, and as I wrote it, felt more passionate about the cause,” Thomas said.

Baird won a $1,500 scholarship for his education. It’s a great value, but his PSA helping somebody carries greater value.

“To hear that I was able… somebody actually call and get help would mean a lot to me,” Baird said.

There’s more to the story, and First News is committed to following it as we care for our community. This summer, across the nation, a new three-digit number will be used to route calls for suicide prevention. It’s expected to lead to a 40 percent increase in calls. We’ll be explaining closer to the July 16 change and share how you can help.

The WKBN Caring for our Community campaign is proudly sponsored by our dedicated partners: Dunkin’, Window World, Southwoods Health, Farmers National Bank and the Kufleitner Automotive Group.