and was pleased to receive an email this past week alerting me that this year's State Honorees and Distinguished finalist have been chosen.
What are these awards? Created in 1995, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service, and is a truly remarkable program! Each year, the program’s judges select 102 State Honorees-two from each state and the district of Columbia- to receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. where the students will tour the capital’s landmarks, attend a gala awards ceremony, and visit congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.
While in D.C., 10 of the State Honorees will be named National Honorees on May 7th. These honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice. This wonderful trip is designed to not only thank the students for all their hard work, but to also recognize their efforts and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.
The program has a YouTube page and this PSA tells a bit more about the program.
You can search the honorees Here and once the list of honorees appears, you can sort it alphabetically by name, project type, honor, or state by clicking on the appropriate column heading.
Since this blog is all about 'supporting the troops', I wanted to feature those State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists whose volunteer service was devoted to supporting servicemen and women.
The two State Honorees were:
Rebel Rauterkus 17, of Freedom, Wyo., a member of the Lincoln County 4-H and a senior at Star Valley High School in Afton, raised more than $2,000 for the local American Legion Post by buying and raising two hogs, which were then raffled off to the public. Rebel, whose family members are active volunteers, appreciates how much local veterans do for her community and how little they ask in return. When she heard that the organization was in need of money, she knew she had to help. Her family had raffled off prize-winning hogs in the past to support local causes, so Rebel decided she would use money from her savings account to do the same. “When I met with members at the American Legion, they thought I needed money,” said Rebel. “When I said I wanted to make money to give to them, there were overcome with emotion. Several wept.” As a 4-Her, Rebel knew the qualities she wanted in a hog. “I traveled to several breeders and (pig) sales and knew exactly what I was looking for,” she said. “Show pigs require lots of time, exercise and loving care.” After she had chosen her “boys,” as she referred to them, Rebel had 161 days to raise “the best quality meat on the market.” Last September, Rebel’s efforts paid off at the raffle when community members lined up for a chance to win Rebel’s pork. “The response and results were overwhelming,” she said. With her donation, the Alpine American Legion Post 46 will now be able to make more improvements to their ball field and continue to provide full military honors services at veterans’ funerals, she said.
Krystal Shirrell 18, of Brownsburg, Ind., a senior at Brownsburg High School, has engaged in a variety of activities to assist and support U.S. veterans and soldiers. While attending a workshop organized by her sister to make hats for cancer patients, Krystal heard someone talking about how patients undergoing kidney dialysis treatment often struggle to control their body temperature. Shortly afterward Krystal was at a Veterans Day banquet when she learned that many veterans need dialysis, and an idea took shape: she could make lap blankets to help kidney-damaged veterans stay warm during treatment. Krystal spent up to eight hours making each blanket. She also taught middle school students and senior citizens at a local nursing home how to make the blankets. So far, she has delivered more than 250 of them to the local VA hospital. On one visit, she learned about the VA’s domiciliary program for homeless vets, and immediately wanted to do something for these veterans as well. She conducted a collection drive that provided more than 5,000 needed items for vets in the program, and she hosts monthly bingo nights for them, too. In addition, Krystal designed a “thank-you” coloring sheet for elementary school students to send to veterans, and launched a campaign to send decorated Christmas trees and care packages with special gift items to troops over the holidays. Krystal says she wants to “let veterans know the younger generation has not forgotten them and is reaching out with thanks and support.”
and the Distinguished Finalists( two to 10 runners-up in each state are named Distinguished Finalists and receive a bronze medallion) were:
Morgan Bowen 18, of Americus, Ga., a member of the Sumter County 4-H and a home-schooled high school senior, launched "Operation Desert Support" in 2008, a program that sends homemade stockings filled with care items to American troops. Morgan, who has helped to distribute stockings to nearly 900 troops and has recruited and organized 400 volunteers, has also secured donations through a letter campaign, media stories, and drop-off boxes throughout the community.
Elise Bruening 18, of Montville, Ohio, a senior at Madison High School, raised more than $16,000 in her "Six Days to D.C." benefit bicycle ride for which she cycled 325 miles from McKeesport, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. Elise, a volunteer with Honor Flight Cleveland, raised money to sponsor trips for World War II veterans to visit the World War II Memorial.
Ashley Easterly 16, of Friendswood, Texas, a senior at Friendswood High School, founded "Suitcase 4 Soldiers," an organization that sends suitcases full of snacks, games and the comforts of home to soldiers serving overseas. Ashley's first suitcase went to her father serving in Iraq, and since then she has raised more than $5,000 in grants and donations to support the program.
Jennifer Hoffstadt 17, of Dover, Del., a senior at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden, collected more than 2,000 greeting cards from students in the Caesar Rodney School District and sent them to soldiers through the American Red Cross "Holiday Mail for Heroes" program. Jennifer, whose dad and other relatives are in the military, also volunteers with the USO and has raised money for families of fallen soldiers; she also volunteers with the Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity.
Lauren Kelley 12, of Nashville, Tenn., a seventh-grader at Christ the King School, founded "Project: PJ," for which she collected and donated 45 backpacks filled with pajamas, personal care items, toys and books for children of veterans that were left homeless after the flood of 2010. Lauren, who wanted to help when she heard that soldiers were coming home from service "homeless" when their houses were washed away, plans to continue this project to help others in need.
Charlotte McCauley 16, of Atlanta, Ga., a sophomore at North Atlanta High School, has organized a project that has donated 12,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to troops in the Middle East for the past two years. Charlotte, a Girl Scout since she was 6 years old, secured low-cost shipping, worked with Girl Scout leaders in her service unit to approve and promote the project, produced a how-to video, and rallied more than 1,300 Girl Scouts to support the project.
Cole Pitts 17, of Alvin, Texas, a senior at Alvin High School, volunteers as a dive buddy with Dive Pirates, a nonprofit organization that enables injured Iraqi war veterans to scuba dive with trained partners. Cole, whose aunt founded "Dive Pirates," has helped to raise $100,000 to support the program.
Kudos to all these young volunteers for the many ways they have volunteered to support our troops and veterans!
and Kudos to Prudential for the Spirit of Community awards, that recognize and support young volunteers!
You can also follow the Prudential Spirit of Awards on Facebook and Twitter