There are child prodigies who play can Mozart or hit par on a regulation golf course. But rarely does a youngster possess such a heart-felt empathy for others like 12-year-old Jacob Fragoso.
For the past two years, Jacob, now a Hesperia Junior High School 7th-grader, has spent his weekends visiting the nearly 100 elderly residents of the Apple Valley Christian Care Center.
"He reads to them, talks to them," said Marsha Soboh, the facility's development director. "He has this calm, almost eerie maturity about him."
Jacob's current teacher, Brianna Richardson, teaches volunteering as part of her class curriculum. For Jacob, it's a natural fit.
Last Thursday morning, Jacob was named a Leaping Leader, an award given jointly by K-Frog Radio and Azusa Pacific University.
"We're especially excited about this because he's our youngest Leaping Leader," said Bill Pettus, general manager of the radio station.
According to his family, the boy was born with a heart for others.
"He's always had something different about him," said his mother, Sara Fragoso.
When Jacob was 3 years old he saw a young girl who had leukemia on a TV show. Because of her illness, the girl was bald. Right then he became a person of action.
"He started growing his hair long," she said. "He wanted his hair to go to her."
As time went by, some other youngsters began making fun of his hair, calling him a "girl," so his mother said, "You don't have to keep growing your hair long."
But Jacob was firm in his conviction.
"Jesus had long hair. He wasn't a girl,"he said.
The rewards for Jacob — who says he wants to become either a pastor or an attorney "so he can help people" — are simple, but deep.
"I do it just to see the smile on someone's face and make their day," he said. "I want them to be happy and have someone there that cares about them."