Northeast

Rhode Island

140619_HER07_25John Perino

Age: 16
Hometown: Westerly
Cause: Home heating assistance for low income families

In 2008, when Perino was a fifth grader scouting around for a community service project, he read an article about local charities unable to keep up with the demand for heating assistance. After learning at an energy expo that cooking oil could be turned into biofuel, the idea for Turn Grease Into Fuel was born. TGIF, which has a half-dozen regular student volunteers, collects 4,000 gallons of used cooking oil a month from 130 restaurants and 17 towns, which a local refinery converts into a biofuel. Over the past six years, the organization has donated $130,000 worth of biofuel to heat homes for 290 low-income families. It also has offset more than two million pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

Says Perino:

We combined two ideas to create something good for both the environment and the community. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

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