WASHINGTON, April 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Idaho's top two youth volunteers of 2018, Anne Nygard, 17, of Boise and Ivy Harness, 12, of Nampa, were honored in the nation's capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 23rd annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Anne and Ivy – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Anne and Ivy Idaho's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Anne, a member of Girl Scouts of Silver Sage and a junior at Boise Senior High School, has collected more than 300 pairs of gently-used running shoes for refugee students in her city, and hosted events to distribute the shoes and teach the recipients about running. Anne traces her concern for refugees to an event she attended when she was 9. "To this day, I remember the tears of many of these people from the Congo and Vietnam as they told their stories," she said. "Those who come here have fled horrors that we hope to never experience in our lives. I believe the least we can do is be kind to them."
A cross-country runner throughout junior high and high school, Anne was well aware that distance runners go through running shoes quickly, and then throw them into the trash. "But they are still in excellent condition for lighter running," she said. Seeing an opportunity, Anne decided to start collecting these slightly worn shoes and distribute them to refugees in her community. She planned shoe drives and publicized them on social media and through fliers and advertisements that she created. She also contacted refugee organizations and schools with refugee programs to get them involved. At the events she hosts, Anne lets refugee kids pick out the shoes they want, explains the rewards of running, and talks about the running programs at their schools. Anne now conducts her philanthropic activities through her own nonprofit, "Running for Refugees."
Ivy, a member of Idaho 4-H and a home-schooled seventh-grader, has been a very active volunteer in her community over the past four years, engaging in a wide variety of service activities with her 4-H group. Her volunteer work began in 2013 when Ivy started going with her mother and siblings to volunteer at the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History at The College of Idaho, where the family would do everything from shelving books to relocating specimens. Later that year, Ivy joined 4-H and eagerly took advantage of a broad array of new volunteer opportunities.
Since then, Ivy has worked at 4-H day camps, helped organize canned food and sock drives for homeless shelters and participated in a wig drive for cancer patients. She's also pulled weeds and supervised games at a local church, sold concessions at the Snake River Stampede, taken guinea pigs to entertain residents at a retirement center and donated baked goods for various causes. And that's just some of the ways Ivy has contributed to her community. "Through community service, I gained self-confidence," said Ivy. "It makes me feel like maybe I can make a difference, like I can impact the world even if only one step at a time."
"These honorees exemplify something we've known for a long time – that young volunteers have the power to bring meaningful change to their communities," said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. "These students have shown leadership and determination well beyond their years, and it's a privilege to celebrate their service."
"Through their acts of service, these honorees drive home a powerful lesson for their peers: that one student really can make a difference," said Daniel P. Kelley, president of NASSP. "We are honored to shine a spotlight on the compassion, drive and ingenuity of each of these young volunteers."
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of Points of Light's HandsOn Network. More than 29,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year's program.
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 23 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 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.
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