Friday, April 19, 2013

The 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

National Volunteer Week is April 21-27th.

As in years past on this blog, I'm celebrating the spirit of volunteerism by sharing the stories of some state honorees with the Prudential Spirit of Community awards program

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. Since 1995, more than 345,000 young Americans have participated in the program. Each year, the program’s judges select 102 State Honorees to receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. where, on May 6th, 10 of them will be named National Honorees. You can watch the live webcast of the May 6th event here

Because this blog is a milblog, out of the many, many outstanding young people who have been chosen as state honorees, I like to feature particularly those young people who have worked to support the U.S.Military.

They are:

Eric Curl 14, of Flower Mound, Texas, an eighth-grader at Shadow Ridge Middle School, purchased and collected supplies that are needed, but not always available, for wounded soldiers in Afghanistan. Eric had earlier helped out at a USO appreciation event for servicemen as they prepared to depart for Afghanistan. “I was inspired that day by the soldiers I spent time with,” he said. “They are our heroes.” So when he later learned that military medical units overseas often lacked certain supplies needed for the care of wounded troops, “I knew I had to step in and take on this opportunity,” said Eric.
He reached out to a nonprofit organization called Soldiers’ Angels to identify the specific items needed and find out where to send them. He asked friends and family members to help him collect donated items and contributions from local businesses and community members, and organized a car wash to buy additional supplies and pay for shipping. Eric had planned on securing enough supplies – including sheets for evacuation gurneys, sweat suits for evacuating soldiers, and personal comfort items – for 50 service members, but ended up with enough to help hundreds. He then recruited adults and fellow Boy Scouts to help sort and package the supplies. “I will never know the names of the soldiers I was able to help,” said Eric. But “there is no way we as citizens of the U.S. can thank them enough.”
Darlee Hyatt 19, of Riverton, Wyo., a senior at Wind River Middle/High School, helped raise $20,000 over the past two years for veterans and people with cancer in her community by working on an annual week of fundraising activities at her school. The first year, when her school began planning an event to assist two local women who were fighting cancer, Darlee immediately jumped in to help. “I felt it was important to be part of a group who touched the lives of others in a positive way,” she said. The $10,000 raised was split evenly between the two women to help pay for treatment and other needs.
Darlee was even more motivated the following year when the school chose local veterans to be the beneficiaries of its fundraising, since her cousin had served two tours in Iraq. Darlee helped plan the week of fundraising activities, visited local businesses to seek donations, and helped conduct a silent auction during boys and girls basketball games. Again, the week produced $10,000, which went to support the families of two local military veterans. Darlee has volunteered to be the main organizer of this year’s event. “I love the idea of helping someone when they need it most,” she said.
It is always a privilege to be invited by the Prudential Spirit of Community awards to share the stories of these inspiring young volunteers like Eric and Darlee, and it's always so uplifting to hear how these young people have worked to support the U.S.military service men and women.
If you'd like to learn more about this year's honorees, you can go by the awards website ,  or 'like' their page on Facebook , or follow on Twitter , or check out their YouTube channel   for interviews with past honorees.
Many thanks,to this wonderful program that recognizes the extraordinary volunteers among young people each year! and many thanks for contacting this blog again to help share their stories.
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