Americas Top Ten Youth Volunteers Named in 14 th Annual 2009: Former Lady

Americas Top Ten Youth Volunteers Named in 14 th Annual

Former First Lady Laura Bush Pays Tribute to Young Heroes as Part of Four-Day Recognition Events WASHINGTON--()--For their extraordinary efforts in serving others through

volunteerism, ten middle and high school students from across the country were named America&8217s top ten youth volunteers for 2009 today in a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters, capping the 14th year of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Ranging in age from 12 to 18, the ten National Honorees received personal awards of $5,000, engraved gold medallions, crystal trophies for the schools or organizations that nominated them, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for the charities of their choice. [The ceremony can be viewed at .] This year&8217s National Honorees include a formerly homeless girl who led a school project to write and publish a book of stories about homeless people, a Vietnamese-American boy who raises money to provide scholarships and school supplies for poor students in Vietnam, and an autistic girl who supports numerous charities with her singing and artwork. Also among the honorees are a 14-year-old student who hosts monthly birthday parties for children at a homeless shelter, a 12-year-old girl who collects and purchases vitamin tablets for malnourished kids in Guatemala, and a high school senior who recycles cell phones to provide prepaid phone cards to American soldiers. The ceremony was part of a four-day celebration that brought the top two youth volunteers from each state to Washington, D.C., with their parents to be recognized for their outstanding acts of community service. Selected as State Honorees in February from nearly 20,000 applicants across the country, they were personally congratulated by former First Lady Laura W. Bush at a gala dinner reception last night at the Smithsonian&8217s National Museum of Natural History. &8220The young people receiving these awards genuinely care about making a difference in the lives of others and have accomplished so much &8211 in their own communities and around the world,&8221 said Mrs. Bush. &8220I thank and congratulate them for their outstanding volunteer work. Students with this kind of commitment and leadership ability are essential to the future of our nation.&8221 The ten National Honorees named today were selected on the basis of their personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth. They are:

Brittany Bergquist, 18, of Norwell, Mass., who co-founded a nonprofit organization that has purchased nearly 700,000 prepaid phone cards worth $2.5 million for American servicemen and women throughout the world &8211 by recycling used cell phones. Working with her younger brother, Brittany developed a website to solicit donated phones, recruited volunteers in all 50 states and Canada to set up collection sites, and secured a large donation and other assistance from a phone company.

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