WASHINGTON, May 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- New Hampshire's top two youth volunteers of 2017, Jacob Parker, 18, of Windham and Alexandra Macdonald, 12, of Thornton, were honored in the nation's capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 22nd annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Jacob and Alexandra – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps 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 Jacob and Alexandra New Hampshire'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.
Jacob, a senior at Windham High School, founded a nonprofit corporation involving dozens of student volunteers who work on a variety of projects to promote enduring recoveries for people struggling with addiction. "Addiction has always been a major issue," said Jacob, "but over the past few years it has reached an all-time high." For Jacob, the problem is not only urgent, but also personal. "I have lost numerous family members and seen dozens more in my community struggle," he said. "However, I have also seen how proper support can be the difference between life and death."
To help provide that support, Jacob founded "Victory Over Addiction" in 2015. He recruited fellow students who shared his passion, created a website to explain his mission, and began making presentations to school groups and local organizations about the dangers of drug abuse and alcoholism. Jacob and his fellow volunteers also started raising money by shoveling snow for local residents, placing donation jars at more than 70 local businesses, and canvassing door-to-door. The $21,000 raised so far has been used to provide food and other supplies for local recovery meetings, to deliver furniture and other forms of support to houses for recovering addicts across New England, and to create an annual alcohol-free "Senior Safe Night" for more than 200 high school seniors on the night of graduation.
Alexandra, a member of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains and a sixth-grader at Thornton Central School, held donation drives at her school and a local toy store that yielded more than 200 stuffed animals for young patients at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD). "I wanted to help people in need," said Alexandra, "so I thought of people in the hospital." She began investigating hospitals, and learned that CHaD had a "ginormous" list of needed items, especially new stuffed animals. "If I am going through something difficult, I want something to hold tight and cuddle with," she said. "I bet children at a hospital want the same thing."
Cheered on by her mother, Alexandra got permission to hold a stuffed animal collection drive at her school. She made fliers and a poster, and visited each classroom to explain her project. Afterward, she conducted a similar drive at a toy store, and then delivered 228 stuffed animals to the hospital. Alexandra also designed a Girl Scout "patch" program called "Hospital Helper" to encourage other Girl Scouts to take on similar projects.
"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."
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. More than 31,000 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 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 New Hampshire's honorees at the 2017 national recognition events, contact Prudential's Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SOURCE Prudential Insurance