Two Missouri students were named Missouri’s top youth volunteers for 2019 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring students for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Shae Smith (Bolivar) and Chloe Christensen (Lake Lotawana) will travel to Washington, D.C., in early May for the program’s national recognition events.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards are now in their 24th year, conducted in conjunction with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Since their inception, the awards have gone to more than 125,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
“We are proud of Shae and Chloe for their contributions to their communities,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven. “They are inspiring young women and will represent Missouri well at the national level.”
Shae, a freshman at Bolivar High School (Bolivar R-I School District), created a campaign called “Catching the Curve” to raise awareness of scoliosis, a condition with which she was diagnosed at age 11. Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine that, if left untreated, can cause health complications including heart and lung problems. Shae created a website in 2017 to increase awareness of the importance of early screening as well as diagnosis and treatment. She has raised $30,000 to help with medical expenses for scoliosis patients at Shriner’s and Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.
Chloe, an eighth-grader at Bernard C. Campbell Middle School (Lee’s Summit R-VII School District), has collected and donated more than 35,000 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that sends shoes around the world to children and adults who cannot afford footwear. In 2012, Chloe chose to receive shoes for her birthday so that she could donate them to people in need. She collected 86 pairs the first year. Through her work with her soccer team, her family and community, Chloe now stores collected shoes in a warehouse until it is full, then she and her friends load a truck for Soles4Souls. Chloe says she is happy to have inspired many of her friends to get involved in community service.
Six additional Missouri students were recognized as Distinguished Finalists:
- Kathryn Flemming, Creve Coeur, senior, MICDS-Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School
- Brenna Heavin, Rolla, junior, Rolla High School (Rolla 31 School District)
- Flynn Kehm, Fenton, sophomore, Rockwood Summit High School (Rockwood R-VI School District)
- Abilene Lortz, St. James, freshman, John F. Hodge High School (St. James R-I School District)
- Madelyn Muncy, Lockwood, senior, Lockwood High School (Lockwood R-I School District)
- Lauren Vanlandingham, Ladue, senior, Ladue Horton Watkins High School (Ladue School District)
Both Smith and Christensen earned a $1,000 award and an engraved silver medallion. During the events in Washington, they will join the top two honorees from all other states and the District of Columbia. Ten national honorees will be selected from among the state winners to earn an additional $5,000 in awards and $5,000 in grants from The Prudential Foundation for charitable organizations of their choice.