DOVER, Del., Feb. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Kayleigh Barnes, 17, of Bridgeville and Rachel Mackie, 13, of Dover today were named Delaware's top two youth volunteers of 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Kayleigh and Rachel each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2017.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
These are Delaware's top youth volunteers of 2017:
High School State Honoree: Kayleigh Barnes
Nominated by American Red Cross in Wilmington
Kayleigh, a senior at Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded an organization dedicated to improving the lives of young women through mentoring and community service, an organization now made up of more than 120 young women in nine states. When she entered high school, Kayleigh noticed that many female students wanted to get involved in community service, but didn't know how. Kayleigh, who had been volunteering with numerous organizations since she was a little girl, thought she might be able to do something about that.
She started by getting together with a few other girls periodically to undertake small projects such as packing kits for servicemen or baking for a local homeless shelter. As word spread, Kayleigh began receiving inquiries from other young women – even some from other states. She started teaching workshops on creating community service projects, and established a partnership with the local American Red Cross chapter. As more and more girls have joined, Kayleigh's group has conducted an increasing number of service projects, such as donating school supplies, helping kids in need celebrate Halloween, collecting food and clothing for the homeless, instigating random acts of kindness across the country, and volunteering at many Red Cross events. Kayleigh spends a great deal of time not only supporting members' projects, but also mentoring and training new members and planning future initiatives.
Middle Level State Honoree: Rachel Mackie
Nominated by Kent County 4-H in Dover
Rachel, a seventh-grader at Holy Cross School, spearheaded an effort to collect more than 900 items for the homeless in her county and helped bring holiday cheer to a center for the homeless by providing a fully-decorated Christmas tree. Rachel was president of her 4-H Club when she "stumbled" onto Code Purple, a statewide organization that helps homeless people find shelter in churches or other designated buildings when the temperature plunges to 32 degrees or below. "I couldn't and still can't imagine what it must be like to sleep on the streets," said Rachel. "I wanted to help."
Under Rachel's leadership, 4-H members launched a collection drive in partnership with a local physical therapy group. They wrote letters to attract donations and distributed fliers to publicize their drive. Every week, Rachel collected donations of clothing, food, and other supplies and delivered them to the Code Purple House in Dover. Then, working with her knitting club, she provided 50 hats for Code Purple to distribute. And, after asking a church to donate a Christmas tree, Rachel and her club made more than 200 ornaments, and then set up the tree at the Code Purple House.
The program judges also recognized two other Delaware students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Delaware's Distinguished Finalists for 2017:
Nicole Hemphill, 14, of Newark, Del., an eighth-grader at Cab Calloway School of the Arts, has raised more than $2,500 for cancer research since third grade by making and selling crafts, and donates a handmade scarf to a local children's hospital for every one she sells. She started her efforts after meeting a young girl with cancer and deciding to donate to her foundation; when the girl died, Nicole's "Lots of Love" charity began donating proceeds to the CureSearch for Children's Cancer and became one of its top five Delaware donors.
Samantha Sawyer, 17, of Clayton, Del., a senior at Smyrna High School, initiated an effort to buy and donate instruments to the Alfred I. duPont Children's Hospital music therapy program by organizing a community benefit concert. Samantha, a music honor society member and aspiring pediatric oncologist, worked with fellow honor society members, her school band director and Delaware State College to benefit the hospital where she had once been a patient.
"Prudential is honored to recognize these young volunteers for their exemplary service," said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. "We hope that their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can volunteer their time and talents to improve their communities."
"These service-minded young people have brought meaningful change to communities at home and abroad, and it's a privilege to celebrate their work," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. "Congratulations to an exceptional group of middle level and high school students."
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States' largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital's landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. On May 8, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2017. These National 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.
Since the program began in 1995, more than 115,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India, China and Brazil. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President's Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential's diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential's iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit www.news.prudential.com.
For Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallion graphics, please visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media
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SOURCE Prudential Insurance