The gymnasium at Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's was packed for Gov. Gen. David Johnston's arrival on Thursday, but the focus wasn't on the viceregal representative.
During a stopover in the St. John's area, the Governor General handed out six awards which recognize individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter and more caring nation.
Among those honoured with the Caring Canadian Award were two sisters — nine-year-old Rachel Moss, and her seven-year-old sister Julianne. According to Rideau Hall, the two have raised $30,000 for the Janeway Hospital by selling their home-made magnets and jewellery.
When speaking about the award, older sister Rachel is quite humble, "I don't like to talk about it because we don't do our projects to win awards — we do it to help sick kids."
A father who single-handedly built a state-of-the-art ice rink in his backyard last winter for charity was also honoured.
Todd Churchill raised more than $35,000 for charities who helped his son Carter, who has cerebral palsy and is hearing-impaired.
"Awards like this are great but it gives me an opportunity to put the focus back on the charities as well ... because it's always been about the charities and helping my son, at the end of the day," Churchill said.
Father Michael Horlick was recognized for organizing commemorative ceremonies honouring Canadian veterans. Father Horlick has also regularly visited veterans in their homes and in hospitals.
George Powell has been a lifelong volunteer for various organizations, and has contributed to Festival 500.
Powell says it is not about the recognition, "And when you see something you step up and do it. It's as simple as that. I grew up in that kind of environment and there are opportunities for service. I call it serving my fellow man."
St. John's resident, Marie Ryall has volunteered for 25 years. Ryall served her community by taking part in numerous fundraising campaigns benefitting area hospitals.
West coast visit
Earlier on Thursday, the Governor General was in Corner Brook, where he made a keynote address at an international university conference at Memorial University's Grenfell Campus.
Johnston spoke about community and university partnerships to a room filled with educators. Johnston taught law at many of Canada's top universities before taking on the role of Governor General of Canada.
He says his lifetime in the classroom allowed him to take on his new position.