Person of the Year 2015

Cory Nichols: High school student with a big heart


He is a student at Oceanside High School, a part-time actor and, at the age of 15, Cory Nichols, the Herald’s Person of the Year, is the head of his own charitable corporation.

“He’s an outstanding young man — very mature for his age, always meeting the needs of others before his own,” said Kevin Carbonetti, Cory’s guidance counselor at school. “He will always give back, and he was made to work with people and for people.”

Cory’s acting credits range from the TV shows “Nurse Jackie” and “Louie” to the film “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.” When he was 11, he was in the audience at the Long Island Film Expo to watch “Welcome Home,” a film in which he co-starred. But another film, “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island” made an impression on him. “It made me really want to help our community,” he said. “People don’t have to say they’re in need to be in need.”

So he decided to take action. For his bar mitzvah project, his goal was to raise $1,200 to stock the Oceanside Community Service food pantry and the pantry at St. Anthony’s Church. He reached that goal, but the money kept coming in.

Now, four years later, Cory and the student members of the board of directors of C the Difference: Cory Cares have raised $36,000, which they will devote to helping stock at least four food pantries a month through 2019. They have delivered over 13,000 pounds of food so far, 10,000 pounds of which has gone directly to the St. Anthony’s and Community Service pantries.

When he was 14, Cory won $1,000 in the Jolly Time Popcorn Kernels of Kindness contest. He was one of 100 winners from around the country, chosen because he had helped his community with an act of kindness. His grandmother Judi Brower nominated him. “I thought what he was doing was so cool,” she said. “That at 12 years old, he was that concerned, and could start something so charitable and keep working at it. Very inspiring to me.”

Tracy Boever, a Jolly Time spokeswoman said, “His story stuck out because … he’s making a difference and he’s continuing on — [it’s] not just a one-time thing. He’s really taken it to the next level. [It’s] not something he’s done once and moved on with his life.”

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