Delaware’s top two youth volunteers of the year, Emma Rider, 14, of Bridgeville and Success Won’t Wait volunteer Christine McNeill, 14, of Wilmington, were honored in the nation’s capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the presentation of The 2012 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The two young people – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from New York Giants quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning at the 17th annual award ceremony and gala dinner reception, held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
Emma and Christine were named the top high school and middle level youth volunteers in Delaware in February. In addition to their cash awards, they received engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with their parents to Washington, D.C., for this week’s recognition events.
Emma, a member of the Sussex County 4-H and a freshman at Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown , has collected nearly 40,000 pairs of used shoes over the past year and a half in order to buy water purification systems in developing countries.
Christine, an eighth-grader at H.B. du Pont Middle School in Hockessin, conducted a collection drive through the literacy organization Success Won’t Wait, that yielded more than 8,200 children’s books to stock school library shelves in New Orleans that were decimated by Hurricane Katrina. Christine began working on book projects before kindergarten, helping to sort, repair and deliver book donations for a literacy organization called Success Won’t Wait. As she grew older, she started to do even more by manning numerous book drives and working on special literacy-related events.
Last year, after hearing that the majority of school libraries in New Orleans were still understocked, Christine embarked on her own project. She decided to collect 150 boxes of books for the children of New Orleans, but immediately thought of a significant obstacle: getting the books from Delaware to Louisiana. “Books are heavy and expensive to ship,” she said. So she was very excited to learn that the organization Do Something would send a truck to Christine’s community and deliver her books to needy schools in Louisiana if she could collect the 150 boxes. Once she had a way to deliver the books, she started publicizing her drive by contacting the media. As a result, books for every grade level began to pour in. After sorting through the donated books, she packed them into 155 boxes. “I know that the books that I collected will make a difference in the lives of thousands of kids and help them get the education that they deserve,” Christine said.
“Through their extraordinary acts of volunteerism, these students are powerful examples of the way one young person can make a big impact,” said John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “We are proud to honor them for their achievements, and hope their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can make a difference.”
More than 26,000 young people participated in the 2012 awards program last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. The top middle level and high school applicants in each state were selected in February, and flown to Washington this week with their parents for four days of special recognition events.
Conducted in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created 17 years ago by Prudential Financial to encourage youth volunteerism and to identify and reward young role models. Since then, the program has honored more than 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
“These young people have demonstrated remarkable leadership, selflessness and compassion, and they set a fine example for thousands of other students across the U.S. who want to make a difference,” said Ken Griffith, president of NASSP. “The actions of these young volunteers exemplify the best of what America’s youth have to offer.”
For more information please visit The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
Founded in 2002, Success Won’t Wait, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit literacy organization based in Wilmington, Delaware. Want to learn more about Success Won’t Wait’s literacy projects, how to donate used books, or volunteer your time? Simply visit About Success Won’t Wait.
Read now, because success won’t wait!