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Search Is On For Ga.'s Top Youth Volunteers

State honorees receive $1,000 and all-expense-paid trips to Washington D.C. for national recognition events.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program begins its search for Georgia's top youth volunteers of 2013.

Students in grades 5-12 are invited to apply for Prudential Spirit of Community Awards if they have made meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service within the past 12 months. Young volunteers can apply at spirit.prudential.com or www.nassp.org/spirit.

The awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), were created in 1995 to recognize middle level and high school students for helping the less fortunate, promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, or volunteering in other ways. The awards are presented annually on the local, state and national level.

“We have been recognizing youth volunteers since 1995 – and still, every year, we’re amazed by the stories of exemplary community service,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John R. Strangfeld. “We look forward to honoring the top youth volunteers of 2013 for their selflessness, their initiative and their dedication to changing communities for the better.”

Georgia's top youth volunteers of 2012 were Kenneth Smalls-Muldrow, 18, of Pooler and Rashad Holmes, 14, of Rockdale. Kenneth was honored for speaking to student groups to educate them about diabetes and raising money for a cure ever since he was diagnosed with the disease at age seven. Rashad was recognized for making and selling cookies and using the proceeds to pay for disadvantaged students to go on school field trips and take part in 4-H and Boys and Girls Club activities.

Applicants for 2013 awards must complete their online application by Nov. 6 then submit them for certification to a middle or high school principal, Girl Scout council, county 4-H agent, American Red Cross chapter, YMCA or affiliate of the HandsOn Network. Paper copies of the application form can be requested by calling 877-525-8491 toll-free.

Participating schools and local organizations will select local honorees in early November and present them with Certificates of Achievement. These local honorees also will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama if they have contributed the minimum number of volunteer hours to qualify (50 hours for age 14 and younger, 100 hours for older students). All local honorees are then reviewed by a state-level judging committee, which will name the top two candidates from each state and the District of Columbia – one high school student and one middle level student – as state honorees on Feb. 5. These honorees will receive $1,000 awards, engraved silver medallions, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C., with a parent for four days of recognition events May 4-7. Runners-up at the state level will receive bronze medallions or Certificates of Excellence.

In Washington, a distinguished national selection committee will name 10 of the 102 state honorees as America’s top youth volunteers of the year. These national honorees will receive additional awards of $5,000, gold medallions, crystal trophies for their nominating schools or organizations, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

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