DOVER, Del., May 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Delaware's top two youth volunteers of 2020, Madison Vogel, 18, of Ocean View and Reagan Garnsey, 13, of Dover, were recognized this weekend for their outstanding volunteer service during the 25th annual, and first-ever virtual, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards national recognition celebration.
In recognition of the spirit of service that they have demonstrated in their communities, Madison and Reagan – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – were also each given $2,500 to donate toward the local COVID-19 response efforts of a nonprofit organization of their choice. These funds come in addition to the $1,000 scholarship and engraved silver medallion they earned as Delaware's top youth volunteers of 2020.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Madison and Reagan Delaware's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February.
"Over the past 25 years, this program has honored students spanning three generations, and the common thread between them has been the determination of young people to respond to the challenges of the moment," said Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. "Who better than this group of young leaders from all over the country to help identify and direct resources to community needs arising from COVID-19?"
As State Honorees, Madison and Reagan also earned an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the program's annual national recognition events; the trip, however, was canceled due to COVID-19 and changed to a three-day online celebration this past weekend. In addition to remarks and congratulations from actress Kristen Bell, honorees had opportunities to connect with each other through online project-sharing sessions, learn about service and advocacy from accomplished past Spirit of Community honorees, hear congratulatory remarks from Lowrey and NASSP Executive Director and CEO JoAnn Bartoletti, and more.
"We admire these young leaders for their ability to assess the needs of the communities they serve and find meaningful ways to address them," said Bartoletti. "At a time when everyone is looking for optimism, these students are a bright light for their peers and the adults in their lives."
About the Honorees
Madison (pictured left), a senior at Sussex Technical High School, has helped her family organize a variety of events over the past seven years that have collected money and books for the families of children with cancer, following the death of her youngest sister from a rare brain tumor when she was only 5. "I was inspired by the strength my sister had while she was fighting this horrible disease," said Madison. So when her parents created the Get Well Gabby Foundation, Madison was anxious to work within the foundation to raise funds to find a cure and to assist in the care and well-being of children and families dealing with cancer.
Over the years, Madison has helped plan, manage and recruit volunteers for events such as a 5K run/walk, a carnival, a "princess and pirate" breakfast, a bowling night and a Secret Santa shop. These events have raised large amounts of money to pay for medical treatments and other expenses incurred by families of kids with malignancies, as well as for research. These fundraising activities also built a $125,000 playroom in the oncology unit of a children's hospital in Wilmington. In addition, Madison has helped conduct an annual drive that has collected thousands of new books each year for young people with cancer across the country. "Saddened by the loss of my sister, I have fought to bring about more awareness of childhood cancer and make sure others do not have to suffer the same fate as Gabby, as no one should have to endure what she did," said Madison.
Reagan (pictured right), a seventh-grader at Holy Cross School, founded a nonprofit organization with her little sister that has distributed nearly 7,500 plastic buckets filled with toys, games and crafts in all 50 states to children in hospitals, homeless shelters, foster care or who are faced with other challenges or hardships. Reagan began volunteering at age 4 by hosting a lemonade stand during the summer to raise money for a national charity focused on childhood cancer. In second grade, she started a knitting club at her school that ended up producing more than 1,200 hand-knitted hats for people in shelters and hospitals. Following the success of that project, "I started to think about my next big idea, and Buckets of Love Foundation was born," said Reagan.
Reagan and her sister, Payton, collect money and items to fill their buckets by conducting bake sales and toy drives, and by soliciting donations and sponsors through letters, a video, a website and social media. They also have launched an annual fundraising golf tournament. Once buckets are filled with things designed to bring a smile to the face of a deserving child, the sisters include little notes telling the recipients that they are loved and appreciated. Then partner organizations are recruited to distribute the buckets in their locations. The project, said Reagan, reflects "our deep love for helping those who are less fortunate and in need of cheering up. The smiles on the faces of the children receiving our buckets have made all our efforts worthwhile."
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 25 years, the program has honored more than 130,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
For more information about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year's honorees, visit http://spirit.prudential.com. For more information about the National Association of Secondary School Principals, visit www.nassp.org. For more information about Prudential Financial, visit www.news.prudential.com.
Learn more at spirit.prudential.com
SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.