By Lisa Hughes

BOSTON (CBS) – Days before its final fall service event, the Martin Richard Foundation is making its single biggest donation to date – a $1 million grant to Project 351, a service organization that unites eighth graders from every city and town in Massachusetts.

Giving back is at the heart of both organizations. Five years ago, Project 351 named the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing one of its “service heroes.”

The Richard family joined the young ambassadors in projects including a peace and unity walk in Martin’s name and a special friendship was born.

“Bill, Denise, Henry and Jane have become part of our family,” Project 351 founder Carolyn Casey said.

Since then, Martin’s legacy of peace has inspired thousands of ambassadors who see the difference one person can make just by being kind.

Martin Richard. (Photo credit: Richard family-Facebook)

“Just by being motivated to make their small difference in their neighborhood. And when they join together it can change a city, a commonwealth and a world,” Casey said.

The Martin Richard Foundation believes so strongly in that collective power it’s giving Project 351 a game-changing $1 million grant.

“This is a program that really sticks with them. It inspires them to do good, inspires them to be civically minded,” said Erin O’Brien, Martin’s aunt and foundation board member. She says the vote to make the grant was unanimous.

“It’s a way for Martin’s message to branch outside of Boston into different communities among diverse populations of students who are then empowered to carry that forward,” O’Brien said.

If you want to join the Martin Richard Foundation’s autumn service day, volunteers are welcome. It is Sunday October, 20 at the Leahy-Holloran Community Center in Dorchester. Service starts at noon to benefit a host of anti-hunger groups.

Lisa Hughes


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