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Kids Show Spirit

Awards honor youth volunteers

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This is an image of Ajay Mangal.
17-year-old Ajay Mangal helped families clean out their homes after Hurricane Katrina. (Photo: Courtesy of Prudential Financial)

By Brittany Wagonheim

October 17. 2006

Do you care about your community? Do you volunteer where you live? If so, get ready to apply for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. This program recognizes kids who volunteer in their communities. The deadline to apply is October 31.

The program was started in 1995 by Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. In the past 12 years, it has grown into America’s largest recognition program for young volunteers. The program has honored more than 70,000 students in grades 5 through 12. Two young volunteers (one from high school, one from middle school) are chosen from each of the 50 states. Each honoree receives $1,000, an engraved medallion, and a four-day trip to Washington, D.C.

When kids volunteer, it has a big impact on the community and the economy. Each year, teens spend an average of 2.4 billion hours doing volunteer work—their service is worth more than $34 billion to the economy!

The honorees for 2006 were announced in May at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. Each volunteer was involved in a unique community service project.

Ajay Mangal gathered volunteers to aid in Hurricane Katrina cleanup. The 17-year-old is from Mississippi. Ajay said that his experience as a volunteer “allowed me to learn the significance of family, love, teamwork, and friends, and the unimportance of material objects.”

Tennessee honoree, Ellie Ambrose, 12, organized an annual run that in the past two years raised more than $40,000 for sick children in Africa. “Ellie’s Run for Africa,” which also features a carnival, will continue to raise funds this year.

The Prudential Spirit of Community receives support from celebrity activists like actor Richard Dreyfuss and comedian/actress Whoopi Goldberg. In 2004, Goldberg said The Prudential Spirit of Community “will be what will re-energize young people again [and] make them believe that they have a place and have a way to make things happen.”

How It Works

Volunteers can submit their applications through either their schools, the YMCA, local American Red Cross chapters, or the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National. To learn more about the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, visit their Web site.


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