Nicolette Cariveau, 17, of Grand Forks and Lyndsey Scheurer, 14, of Bismarck today were named North Dakota'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. Nicolette was nominated by Grand Forks Central High School in Grand Forks, and Lyndsey was nominated by Horizon Middle School in Bismarck. 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).
Nicolette, a junior at Grand Forks Central High School, has collected more than 3,500 pounds of aluminum can pop tops over the past five years to help pay for families to stay at a Ronald McDonald House while their children undergo treatment for serious medical conditions. Nicolette and her family know firsthand what it’s like to have to travel far away from home for medical treatment. When Nicolette was 12 years old, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her family moved into a Ronald McDonald House for four months while she underwent treatment in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. While there, “I noticed little houses for people to put their pop tops in,” said Nicolette. “They collected pop tops as a way of helping fund living expenses for the families that stayed there.” The pop tops are sold to recycling centers for 60 cents a pound.
When she returned three months later for a checkup, Nicolette brought a bag filled with pop tops she had saved. But she wanted to do more, so she began speaking to groups, schools, businesses, and the news media to share her story and let others know how easy it is to ease the burden on families like hers. It wasn’t long before local businesses and her church were holding contests to see who could collect the most pop tops. Strangers from her town and neighboring towns also began saving pop tops, which Nicolette picked up. Last summer she loaded her father’s pickup truck with enough pop tops to fill an industrial-size dumpster and delivered them to the Ronald McDonald House. Thus far, Nicolette’s efforts have helped 48 families stay in this “home away from home” as they struggle through the uncertainty of their child’s illness.
Lyndsey, an eighth-grader at Horizon Middle School, collected stuffed animals and organized a holiday food drive to support a local nonprofit that provides services to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. Lyndsey’s role model was her older sister, who has been involved in several service projects. When Lyndsey was 9 years old, she became interested in The Ruth Meiers Hospitality House, an organization that has been helping people in her area for the past 25 years and receives up to 50 calls a day from people needing assistance. “Many of these are families with young children,” said Lyndsey. “I felt it was important to help the children feel safe and secure.”
When she called the shelter, she was told that they needed small, soft, cuddly toys. She immediately thought of her collection of Beanie Babies. After asking friends, family members and neighbors for theirs, she delivered more than 300 of the little stuffed toys to the shelter. When she heard that the shelter’s food stores were too low to meet the holiday needs of all the families it serves, she again went to work, setting up a food box to collect donations at her mother’s workplace and calling upon everyone she knew to donate. Then she sorted, packed and delivered the food and personal care items to the shelter. She said she will continue to work on behalf of the homeless. “When a homeless family is able to enjoy a nice meal, when a soft beanie comforts a child and brings a smile, then I have made a difference,” Lyndsey said.
As State Honorees, Nicolette and Lyndsey 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.
The program judges also recognized two other North Dakota students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are North Dakota's Distinguished Finalists for 2013:
Ariana Herman, 16, of Bismarck, N.D., a member of Girl Scouts-Dakota Horizons and a sophomore at Bismarck High School, built eight new trash can receptacles for the Dakota Zoo, for which she earned her Girl Scout Gold Award. Ariana, whose motto of “leave no trace” led her to this project, recruited adults, fellow Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to help with the nearly 200 hours that went into the construction of the trash cans.
Levi Schlosser, 17, of Mandan, N.D., a senior at Mandan High School, is an active member of his school’s chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions, having participated in a number of activities including a domestic violence campaign and a suicide prevention campaign. Levi, who has witnessed within his own family the destruction of alcoholism, is also on the regional board of SADD and visits local elementary school children to teach about the dangers of drug abuse, bullying, and other issues.
“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.
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.
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
Harold Banks, 973-802-8974 or 973-216-4833
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