BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Anne Nygard, 17, of Boise and Ivy Harness, 12, of Nampa today were named Idaho’s top two youth volunteers of 2018 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Anne and Ivy each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in late April 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 2018.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards logo

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

These are Idaho’s top youth volunteers of 2018:

High School State Honoree: Anne Nygard
Nominated by Girl Scouts of Silver Sage in Boise

Anne, a junior at Boise Senior High School, has collected more than 300 pairs of gently-used running shoes for refugee students in her city and hosted events to distribute the shoes and teach the recipients about running. Anne traces her concern for refugees to an event she attended when she was 9. “To this day, I remember the tears of many of these people from the Congo and Vietnam as they told their stories,” she said. “Those who come here have fled horrors that we hope to never experience in our lives. I believe the least we can do is be kind to them.”

A cross-country runner throughout junior high and high school, Anne was well aware that distance runners go through running shoes quickly, and then throw them into the trash. “But they are still in excellent condition for lighter running,” she said. Seeing an opportunity, Anne decided to start collecting these slightly worn shoes and distribute them to refugees in her community. She planned shoe drives and publicized them on social media and through fliers and advertisements that she created. She also contacted refugee organizations and schools with refugee programs to get them involved. At the events she hosts, Anne lets refugee kids pick out the shoes they want, explains the rewards of running, and talks about the running programs at their schools. Anne now conducts her philanthropic activities through her own nonprofit, “Running for Refugees.”       

Middle Level State Honoree: Ivy Harness
Nominated by University of Idaho Extension in Caldwell

Ivy, a seventh-grader at Harness Homeschool, has been a very active volunteer in her community over the past four years, engaging in a wide variety of service activities with her 4-H group. Her volunteer work began in 2013 when Ivy started going with her mother and siblings every Saturday during the summer to a natural history museum, where the family would do everything from shelving books to relocating bug specimens. Later that year, Ivy joined 4-H and eagerly took advantage of a broad array of new volunteer opportunities.

Since then, Ivy has worked at 4-H day camps, helped organize canned food and sock drives for homeless shelters and participated in a wig drive for cancer patients. She’s also pulled weeds and supervised games at church, sold concessions at the Snake River Stampede, taken guinea pigs to entertain residents at a retirement center and donated baked goods for various causes. And that’s just some of the ways Ivy has contributed to her community. “Through community service, I gained self-confidence,” said Ivy. “It makes me feel like maybe I can make a difference, like I can impact the world even if only one step at a time.”       

Distinguished Finalists

The program judges also recognized two other Idaho students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Idaho’s Distinguished Finalists for 2018:

Randy-B Funk, 15, of Meridian, Idaho, a freshman at Idaho Virtual Academy, has been holding community supply drives for people in need since he was 12 years old, gathering hundreds of pairs of socks, dozens of stuffed suitcases and Christmas presents, over 1,000 pounds of food for his local food bank and more. Randy-B also serves with a number of youth and community organizations, including the Meridian Youth Advisory Council.

Kayla Watson, 16, of Boise, Idaho, a junior at Timberline High School, started a club that paired high school tutors with young refugees from a local elementary school, providing the kids with role models and academic support during the stressful transition to an American school. After learning that many refugees fall behind at school due to limited English and differences in their education systems, Kayla started “Tutors of the World,” a program that provided twice-weekly support to about 20 kids.

“Prudential is proud to recognize these remarkable young people for using their energy, creativity and compassion to bring meaningful change to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same.”

“These middle level and high school students have not only improved the lives of the people and communities they’ve served – they also set an important example for their peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “These honorees prove that you’re never too young to make a difference.”

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 affiliates of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These 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 April 30, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2018. 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 120,000 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, India, China, Brazil and Poland. 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.

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

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 Student Council. 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.

For Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallion graphics, please visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media

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SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.