DOVER, Del., Feb. 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Madison Vogel, 17, of Ocean View and Reagan Garnsey, 13, of Dover today were named Delaware's top two youth volunteers of 2020 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Madison and Reagan 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 2020.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 25th 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 2020:
High School State Honoree: Madison Vogel
Nominated by Sussex Technical High School
Madison, 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.
Middle Level State Honoree: Reagan Garnsey
Nominated by Holy Cross School
Reagan, 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."
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 2020:
Megan Chen, 16, of Newark, Delaware, a junior at Newark Charter Junior/Senior High School, is the founder and executive director of "The Urban Garden Initiative (TUGI)," a nonprofit that has taught more than 500 participants how to start container gardens by offering workshops at inner-city schools and community centers. Megan, who first began gardening with her family, was inspired to start TUGI after learning about the lack of access to fresh, affordable produce near her community.
Madelyn David, 16, of Middletown, Delaware, a junior at St. Georges Technical High School, developed "Project Read 2 Me" to improve literacy in her community; in addition to hosting events, Madelyn spread awareness about her campaign, distributed stuffed animals for children to read to, and built a Little Free Library where people can donate and take books. Madelyn also built a website and used social media to encourage people to pledge to read aloud to others on a regular basis.
"In our 25th year of honoring young volunteers, we are as inspired as ever by the work students are doing to address the needs of a changing world," said Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. "We hope that their resolve, their initiative and their perspectives on society's challenges move others to consider how they can make a difference, too."
"Middle level and high school students are doing remarkable things to shape the future of their communities through volunteer service. They inspire all students and schools to drive learning with real-world challenges," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. "Congratulations to each of the 2020 honorees – it's an honor to celebrate your commitment to creating positive change."
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 Points of Light Global Network members, 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 4, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2020. These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 scholarships, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from Prudential for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.
Since the program began in 1995, more than 130,000 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 principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student's potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. 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 Student Council. Learn more at 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
SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.