WASHINGTON, April 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Nebraska's top two youth volunteers of 2018, Jetta Harvey, 16, of Beatrice and Kadynce Mullins, 10, of Nebraska City, 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. Jetta and Kadynce – 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 Jetta and Kadynce Nebraska'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.
Jetta, a member of Gage County 4-H and a sophomore at Harvey Academy for Higher Learning, led more than 30 kids in her 4-H club and local middle school in making five warm, thick quilts to honor military veterans in her community. "I love to quilt," said Jetta. "I also love my country and am very grateful for the veterans who sacrifice to keep me safe." So, when Jetta heard about another teenager who used her sewing skills to make a quilt for a service member, she wanted to do the same.
With help from her mother, Jetta constructed a quilt for the father of a fellow 4-Her who had served in a submarine for five years off the coast of North Korea. Once she had mastered the pattern, she thought: "Why not teach others to quilt, while encouraging them to volunteer and show patriotism?" Jetta then began showing members of her 4-H club how to use a sewing machine to make a quilt and spent weeks with them as they produced three patriotic quilts for veterans. Jetta was then asked to teach quilting to 10 middle-school girls in an after-school program, which resulted in a fifth quilt. Once they were all completed, Jetta organized a reception to present each quilt to a deserving veteran. At one of these events, a highly decorated recipient tearfully explained that out of all the awards and medallions he'd received as a Marine, his quilt was the highest honor.
Kadynce, a member of Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska and a fifth-grader at Hayward Elementary School, raised $1,500 for Omaha Children's Hospital by converting her Radio Flyer wagon into a lollipop stand, and contributed thousands of volunteer hours to benefit the Children's Miracle Network (CMN). Kadynce suffered a seizure when she was 5, and while recovering in the hospital, was struck by the stories of other young patients. "I wanted to help them," she said, "because they must have been afraid like me, and I wanted them to feel loved, brave and be healed."
Having seen a CMN donation container at a local supermarket, Kadynce asked her mother if she could sell lollipops to collect donations. Soon after, she transformed her wagon into a limousine-shaped mobile lollipop stand, made promotional posters, purchased supplies, and began selling her candy. Kadynce also started volunteering in many other ways to aid sick children. She has shopped, cooked and collected goods for families staying at the Carolyn Scott Rainbow House; hosted a food drive and a "Queen for a Day" event in her city; participated in CMN fundraisers; and recruited classmates to help make more than 200 "Get Well" tray liners.
"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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