LINCOLN, Neb., Feb. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Jetta Harvey, 16, of Beatrice and Kadynce Mullins, 10, of Nebraska City today were named Nebraska’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, Jetta and Kadynce 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 Nebraska’s top youth volunteers of 2018:

High School State Honoree: Jetta Harvey
Nominated by Gage County 4-H in Beatrice

Jetta, a sophomore at Harvey Academy for Higher Learning, led more than 30 kids in her 4-H club and local middle school in making five warm, thick quilts to honor military veterans in her community. “I love to quilt,” said Jetta. “I also love my country and am very grateful for the veterans who sacrifice to keep me safe.” So, when Jetta heard about another teenager who used her sewing skills to make a quilt for a service member, she wanted to do the same.

With help from her mother, Jetta constructed a quilt for the father of a fellow 4-Her who had served in a submarine for five years off the coast of North Korea. Once she had mastered the pattern, she thought: “Why not teach others to quilt, while encouraging them to volunteer and show patriotism?” Jetta then began showing members of her 4-H club how to use a sewing machine to make a quilt and spent weeks with them as they produced three patriotic quilts for veterans. Jetta was then asked to teach quilting to 10 middle-school girls in an after-school program, which resulted in a fifth quilt. Once they were all completed, Jetta organized a reception to present each quilt to a deserving veteran. At one of these events, a highly decorated recipient tearfully explained that out of all the awards and medallions he’d received as a Marine, his quilt was the highest honor.

Middle Level State Honoree: Kadynce Mullins
Nominated by Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska in Omaha

Kadynce, a fifth-grader at Hayward Elementary School, raised $1,500 for Omaha Children’s Hospital by converting her Radio Flyer wagon into a lollipop stand, and contributed thousands of volunteer hours to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). Kadynce suffered a seizure when she was 5, and while recovering in the hospital, was struck by the stories of other young patients. “I wanted to help them,” she said, “because they must have been afraid like me, and I wanted them to feel loved, brave and be healed.”

Having seen a CMN donation container at a local supermarket, Kadynce asked her mother if she could sell lollipops to collect donations. Soon after, she transformed her wagon into a limousine-shaped mobile lollipop stand, made promotional posters, purchased supplies, and began selling her candy. Kadynce also started volunteering in many other ways to aid sick children. She has shopped, cooked and collected goods for families staying at the Carolyn Scott Rainbow House; hosted a food drive and a “Queen for a Day” event in her city; participated in CMN fundraisers; and recruited classmates to help make more than 200 “Get Well” tray liners.      

Distinguished Finalists

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

These are Nebraska’s Distinguished Finalists for 2018:

Elisabeth Hansen, 15, of Lincoln, Neb., a sophomore at Pius X High School, has been an active volunteer for the past five years with FoodNet, where she hauls, sorts and distributes donations of recently-expired groceries to feed the hungry in her community. Elisabeth has also volunteered for three years with the Nebraska Outdoor Education Center, teaching young participants skills ranging from archery to outdoor cooking to shelter-building.

Anna Vaughn, 17, of Blair, Neb., a member of Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska and a senior at Blair High School, mobilized more than 120 volunteers to knit more than 1,200 hats for premature babies at seven area hospitals. After learning that hospital-issue preemie hats sometimes fell off because they were too large, Anna worked with her dad to create specially-designed looms for making even tinier hats; she then created and distributed sewing kits and trained hat-making volunteers ranging in age from eight to 80.

“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.