West Virginia's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 18th Annual National Awards Program Elkview and West Union students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation’s capital Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Williamson and Culloden Business Wire CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- February 5, 2013 Jay Haapala, 15, of Elkview and Julian Harrington, 12, of West Union today were named West Virginia's top two youth volunteers of 2013 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Jay was nominated by Capital High School in Charleston, and Julian was nominated by Doddridge County Middle School in West Union. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 18th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Jay, a freshman at Capital High School, chaired West Virginia’s annual fundraising walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) last year, attracting more than 700 walkers and raising a record $140,000. After Jay was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nine years ago, he and his family began participating in the annual walk in Charleston. “As I grew older, I decided I wanted to find a project relating to diabetes, and to prove to myself and others that I could handle anything,” he said. “I am always up for a challenge, especially if I can help people in the process.” Jay joined the board of West Virginia’s JDRF chapter and took on the challenge of chairing the chapter’s walk. Starting months before the May event, he created a new logo and slogan, built a website, recruited local high school students and his Boy Scout troop to help, planned media coverage and worked on logistics with other chapter board members. “The most difficult part of my project was being in charge of so many people,” said Jay. To make the walk extra fun for young walkers, Jay arranged for balloons to be released at the starting line, a helicopter to land at the event and a military airplane to be on display. He also handed out cards resembling airline safety cards to illustrate the warning signs and treatments for abnormal blood sugar levels. Jay has already agreed to chair this year’s event. Julian, a sixth-grader at Doddridge County Middle School, organized a yard sale and benefit dinner that together raised $1,600 for two families who lost their homes to a fire. This was just the latest of Julian’s volunteer projects. Previously, he had donated his birthday money to relief efforts in Haiti, raised money for tsunami victims in Japan, conducted a car wash and bake sale to benefit food pantries, and helped make blankets for senior citizens. “I don’t like to see others hurting no matter what the circumstances,” he explained. So when a winter fire destroyed two homes in Salem, W.Va., Julian felt compelled to respond. “I felt sorry for both families that lost everything,” he said. He collected things to sell at his yard sale, distributed promotional flyers to local businesses, submitted an article to the local newspaper, and recruited family members and friends to help conduct the sale and cook the dinner. Julian knew he’d really accomplished something when he saw the tears in the eyes of the two families as they received their checks. “No matter where we live, rich or poor, or what country we live in, we are all God’s children and should help one another,” said Julian. As State Honorees, Jay and Julian each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013. Distinguished Finalists The program judges also recognized two other West Virginia students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion. These are West Virginia's Distinguished Finalists for 2013: Briana Smith, 19, of Williamson, W.Va., a senior at Mingo Central High School, helped to raise $25,000 at an annual banquet over the past four years as a member of the Tug Valley Friendship Foundation. Briana, who is also the state vice president of the West Virginia State Beta Club, helps to coordinate the purchase and distribution of Christmas gifts to local children from families in need. Tiffani Webb, 18, of Culloden, W.Va., a member of the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond in Charleston and a senior at Cabell Midland High School, is an active community volunteer who recently coordinated a project to collect more than 2,000 books, 359 movies, six gaming systems and 129 games for the River Park Hospital Pediatric Unit. Tiffani has also hosted parties for the children to get them excited about reading, including a red carpet event and a “Wild About Reading” program. “Prudential is proud to honor these students for making meaningful contributions to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope that shining a spotlight on their initiative, creativity and compassion inspires others to consider how they, too, can make a difference.” “Through their volunteer service, each of these young people has made his or her mark on at least one person, school or community,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “When you consider the collective impact of each of these individual acts, it’s clear that young people can be a major force for good.” About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Nearly 5,000 Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth. While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. On May 6, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013. These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice. Since the program began in 1995, more than 100,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland and India. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees on behalf of President Barack Obama. For information on all of this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit http://spirit.prudential.com or www.nassp.org/spirit. About NASSP NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding commitment to student leadership development as well, 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 http://www.news.prudential.com/. Editors: For full-color pictures of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW Contact: Prudential Financial Harold Banks, 973-802-8974 or 973-216-4833 email@example.com
West Virginia's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 18th Annual National Awards Program
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