By David Burton
The Youth Service of America honored Berni Barta â10 with the Gladys Marinelli Coccia award at the National Service-Learning Conference in San Jose on March 26 during the State Farm Awards Ceremony.
The award was founded in memory of Gladys Coccia, who began her entrepreneurial career as a young girl in West Virginia and went on to become a successful businesswoman and community leader in Washington, D.C. Barta was one of two girls to win this award.
In 2002, Berni along with her three older sisters Lexi â03, Romi â06, and Marni â09 founded Kid Flicks, a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting DVDs, donating them to childrenâs hospitals and pediatric departments across the United States and abroad.
With a friend in the hospital at the time suffering from Leukemia, the four sisters decided to take their DVDs to their friend so that she could be distracted from her condition.
“From that point on we decided to collect movies and donate them to as many childrensâ hospitals as we could,” Barta said.
Donations of DVDs increased as word spread about the Barta sistersâ mission. What started as collection drives at local schools, turned into donations from movie studios, production companies and collection drives from schools across the country.
After delivering movies for childrensâ hospitals in every five hour radius of Los Angeles, the Barta sisters looked to expand. They began to apply for grants to cover the costs for shipping movies to other cities and states outside of Los Angeles.
The Gladys Marinelli Coccia Award granted Barta $2,000 for her and her sistersâ organization.
“The grant is absolutely great because it helps us with our shipping costs, which means more movies for more kids,” Barta said.
Since its start in 2002, Kid Flicks has donated over 53,900 movies to over 539 hospitals in all 50 states and five hospitals in Africa.
Barta plans to continue to collect and donate DVDs when she goes to college and is currently organizing a movie drive on campus that will take place within the next month.