The deadline is in two weeks to nominate Iowa’s top youth volunteers for a statewide award, with the chance at national recognition — and a bundle of cash. Greg Loder, executive director of the Prudential Spirit of Community Initiative, says the program is open to Iowa students in grades five through 12 who have made meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service in the past year.
Loder says, “What we’re looking for and how the students are evaluated is on their initiative, the effort of their project, the impact it’s made and also the personal growth that they’ve experienced.” This is the 19th year for the awards program and over that time, Loder says they’ve recognized hundreds of young people all across the U.S. for their efforts to protect the environment, promote good health and a host of other causes.
“They’ve created an organization that might collect shoes for the needy or they’ve done things overseas,” Loder says, “but we’ve also seen students in the everyday world who are working at food pantries, working with the ASPCA, just volunteering their time to help others and help in their community.”
Iowa’s top youth volunteers for this year were: 18-year-old Katelyn Cinnamon of West Des Moines and 14-year-old Samantha Dilocker of Red Oak. Katelyn, Iowa’s top high school volunteer, raised thousands of dollars to purchase iPad tablets for each exam room at the Blank Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic, and to send young cancer patients to a weeklong camp.
Samantha, Iowa’s top middle school volunteer, initiated an annual auction of baked goods and crafts at her local Elks Lodge that’s raised more than $22,000 in the past seven years for a local food pantry, a scholarship fund, a community toy drive and a child with cancer. Students can nominate themselves, Loder says, but they’ll need to have the application certified by their school principal or an official from the organization where they volunteered.
“Students locally are honored with certificates and then every state, two honorees are selected, one at the middle level and one at the high school level,” Loder says. “They earn $1,000, a trip to Washington D.C., and a silver medallion.” At the event in the nation’s capitol, ten students will be singled out from the 102 honorees for additional awards of $5,000 each, 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.
The deadline for entries is November 5th. Apply online at: www.spirit.prudential.com.