Two Missouri students will travel to Washington, D.C., May 6-9 to be recognized as part of a select group chosen as the nation’s top youth volunteers for 2017. Meredith Sharp (Springfield) and Madeline Domian (Fenton) were selected as Missouri’s top youth volunteers for this year as part of the 22nd annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created in 1995 in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Since then, more than 115,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level.
Meredith, a senior at the Missouri State University College of Education’s Greenwood Laboratory School, raised more than $13,000 to provide new athletic shoes for all 311 students at a local Springfield elementary school. She created a nonprofit organization called “Just for Kicks,” amassing enough local donations to outfit an entire school in just a matter of months. After negotiating a competitive price with a major shoe manufacturer, Meredith worked with the students to choose from a variety of styles and colors before presenting the new shoes to each student in May 2016.
Madeline, a 6th grader at Stanton Elementary, led a schoolwide effort to create care kits for children undergoing chemotherapy in honor of her aunt who died from cancer in September 2015. She gathered items to help children deal with the side effects of chemotherapy (such as ChapStick®, lotion and hand sanitizer), keep them comfortable (socks, hats and blankets), and keep them busy (games, toys and puzzles). After the initial donation of 50 kits was delivered to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Madeline continued to lead a student group in putting together more than 200 additional kits for children battling cancer.
Six additional Missouri students were recognized as Distinguished Finalists:
- Haley Farris, senior, Chadwick High School (Chadwick R-I)
- Cameron Gehlert, junior, Linn High School (Osage Co. R-II)
- Joshelle Hargus, Grade 8, Aurora Jr. High School (Aurora R-VIII)
- Brenna Heavin, freshman, Rolla Jr. High School (Rolla 31)
- Madelyn Hubbs, junior, Pattonville High School (Pattonville R-III)
- Caleb Wolf, sophomore, Kearney High School (Kearney R-I)
“These students have displayed great initiative, putting others above themselves,” Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said. “We are pleased they will represent their local communities and our state as Missouri’s top youth volunteers.”
Both Sharp and Domian, who each earned a $1,000 award, will travel to the nation’s capital for four days of recognition events, culminating with 10 students nationwide being named America’s top youth volunteers of 2017. The 10 overall winners will earn an additional $5,000 in awards and $5,000 in grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.