Kathleen Alves O's Big Give
Photo: Courtesy of Kathleen Alves
It's been just over a year since we announced the winners of O 's Big Give Contest, which awarded $5,000 each (provided by Target) and a mentor to readers with ambitious, inspiring plans for helping people in need. In time for the giving season, we checked in with three of these budding philanthropists to see how far they've come.

One of the most unusual Big Give proposals came from Kathleen Alves (above, back row, second from left, with residents of Madan, Papua New Guinea) of Chehalis, Washington. A registered nurse practitioner, Alves travels regularly to Madan, an impoverished farming community in Papua New Guinea, to treat children and adults who have been sickened by water-borne illnesses and other ailments. Alves estimated that one Big Give grant would cover the cost of constructing two wells; entrepreneur Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway) advised on engineering details, and the project broke ground last spring. The result: Madan's estimated 8,000 residents now have access to clean water. "This felt so good that I want to do more," says Alves, who will return to Madan next year to begin implementing a latrine system, HIV testing, and other health improvements. "Once you start, it's addictive."

Next: Giving the gift of music to children in New Orleans