WASHINGTON, May 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Harmonie Frederick, 11, of Columbia, S.C., was named one of America's top 10 youth volunteers of 2017 today by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards during the program's 22nd annual national award ceremony at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. Selected from a field of more than 31,000 youth volunteers from across the country, Harmonie has earned the title of National Honoree, along with a personal award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for her school, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit charitable organization of her choice.
Also honored this week in Washington, D.C., was Abigail McCarter, 18, of Greenville, S.C. Abigail and Harmonie were named South Carolina's top youth volunteers in February, and were officially recognized last night at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History along with the top two youth volunteers in each other state and the District of Columbia. At that event, Harmonie – along with 100 other top volunteers from the country – received a $1,000 award as well as personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. Abigail, who was unable to attend last night's events, was honored in absentia for her outstanding volunteer service.
Harmonie, a fifth-grader at Polo Road Elementary School, sold lemonade to raise money and awareness to fight cancer, conducted a coat drive to keep those less fortunate warm in the winter, and volunteers at a local nursing home. After Harmonie's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and her father was diagnosed with leukemia, Harmonie sold lemonade at her church to support cancer research. She also recruited friends to help out at a breast cancer fundraising walk and recognize survivors with pink roses.
When Harmonie noticed that a friend came to school with no coat on a winter day to protect him from the cold and rain, she initiated a coat drive through her church and ended up with more than 800 garments for both children and adults. At a local nursing home, Harmonie plays the piano for the residents, calls out bingo numbers, serves ice cream, and polishes fingernails. "If you see a person in need, anyone can help," said Harmonie. "You don't need to give money, but you can help by doing small gestures to show that you care about them. I feel great when I can make someone happy."
Abigail, a senior at Wade Hampton High School, oversaw a weeklong fundraising campaign by her school's student body that included more than 45 individual events and raised over $220,000 for children with congenital heart defects. As a member of her school's student council for three years, Abigail participated in many volunteer activities. But when she was elected student body president, she took charge of her school's annual "Spirit Week," which raises money for a different charity each year.
To be the beneficiary of the 2016 Spirit Week last October, Abigail and her fellow council members chose the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation, a South Carolina nonprofit that works on behalf of kids born with heart defects. For Abigail, this was the perfect choice; she had long watched her best friend struggle through surgeries and other consequences of a congenital heart defect. For six months, Abigail supervised the planning and implementation of dozens of fundraising events for Spirit Week, and personally managed a parent night party, silent auction, painting class, midnight jam and bachelor auction. She also set out to raise money on her own by writing letters to solicit donations, selling cookies and candy at school, and hosting a golf tournament. By the end of the big week, Abigail and her fellow council members had raised $221,000 for children with congenital heart defects, and Abigail had broken her school's individual fundraising record with a total of more than $12,000.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is a national youth recognition program sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
"These honorees have done exemplary work to contribute to the health and vitality of their communities, and we look forward to seeing the great things they achieve in the future," said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. "Congratulations to each of these extraordinary young volunteers."
"It's a privilege to celebrate these students not only for outstanding volunteer service, but for the example they've set for their peers," said Jayne Ellspermann, president of NASSP. "These honorees prove that one person truly can make a difference."
In addition to Harmonie, these are the other 2017 National Honorees:
Amal Bhatnagar, 18, of Duluth, Ga., a senior at Northview High School, created a student organization that has provided more than a thousand first-aid kits to people in the U.S. and overseas who lack access to basic healthcare.
Riley Callen, 14, of Pawlet, Vt., an eighth-grader at Dorset Elementary School, founded an annual "hike-a-thon" in the hills of Vermont that has raised more than $250,000 to help find a cure for brain tumors, like the ones that have affected her since she was 8 years old.
Ariana DeMattei, 16, of Center Moriches, N.Y., a junior at Westhampton Beach High School, has raised over $100,000 to provide more than 1,000 new backpacks filled with school supplies for local elementary students through an organization she founded in 2012 called "Backpacks for Fellow Students."
Sarah (Katie) Eder, 17, of Shorewood, Wis., a junior at Shorewood High School, developed a creative writing workshop for children in need that is now being taught by 120 teens in seven states and five other countries.
Bradley Ferguson, 16, of Northfield, N.J., a sophomore at Mainland Regional High School, started a service-learning club that over the past three years has supported veterans and people in need by refurbishing an American Legion post, collecting food for a community food bank, making lunches for homeless people, and growing fresh produce at several community gardens.
Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer, 11, of Duncannon, Pa., a sixth-grader at The Cove School, built a volunteer network that has provided more than 12,000 special pillows for children around the world undergoing heart surgery.
Kelsey Norris, 13, of Bonaire, Ga., a sixth-grader at Bonaire Middle School, overcame a challenging start in life to provide more than 1,000 volunteer hours and raise more than $20,000 for a wide variety of causes aiding children and others in difficult situations.
Kenan Pala, 13, of San Diego, Calif., a seventh-grader at Francis Parker Middle School, launched an initiative to benefit homeless people by raising money for local shelters, coordinating meals each quarter at shelter kitchens, and organizing a record-setting cereal donation event.
Meghana Reddy, 18, of La Mesa, Calif., a senior at Francis Parker School in San Diego, uses 3D printing technology to produce artificial hands for children and adults in several countries who cannot afford commercial prostheses.
The distinguished selection committee that chose the National Honorees was chaired by Strangfeld and
included Ellspermann of NASSP; Andrea Bastiani Archibald, chief girl expert for Girl Scouts of the USA;
Kristofer Bolz with the national headquarters volunteer services team at the American Red Cross; Tracy Hoover, president of Points of Light; Peggy McLeod, deputy vice president of education and workforce development at the National Council of La Raza; Frederick J. Riley, national director of urban and youth development at YMCA of the USA; Linda Shiller, at-large member on the National PTA Board of Directors; Rhonda Taylor, acting deputy director of strategic communications and director of partnerships and program engagement for the Corporation for National and Community Service; Dru Tomlin, director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education; and two 2016 National Honorees: Connor Archer, a freshman at Husson University in Bangor, Maine, and Alisha Zhao, a senior at Lincoln High School in Portland, Ore.
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network.
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 22 years, the program has honored more than 120,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
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.
Editors: For pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media
For B-roll of South Carolina's honorees at the 2017 national recognition events, contact Prudential's Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/harmonie-frederick-of-columbia-south-carolina-named-one-of-americas-top-10-youth-volunteers-of-2017-300452975.html
SOURCE Prudential Insurance