May 08 2012
Arkansas teens Alexandria Hunter and Joseph McCollum received the 2012 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, honoring their commitment and dedication to helping others, during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Hunter, 14, an eighth grader at Goza Middle School in Arkadelphia earned this recognition for providing low income families with resources to throw birthday parties. Hunter raised money to create “birthday bags” comprised of party supplies for six partygoers including cake mix, frosting and candles.
“During these times of financial distress, for many families, having a birthday party is just not in their budgets. I wanted to help families celebrate together,” Hunter said. “No matter how small my project is, the effect it can have on just person can be huge.”
McCollum, 15, a sophomore at McGehee High School in McGehee earned this recognition for helping hungry children in Desha County by encouraging and facilitating expansion of the Boys and Girls Club meal program in the county.
After seeing first-hand the effects of childhood hunger, McCollum began volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club in the summer to provide a nutritious meal to children who would otherwise go hungry. After learning only 10 percent of children who qualify for free meals actually receive them, McCollum persuaded the club to expand its services and worked to recruit and train volunteers so more children would know what it is to have a full stomach.
“The best part of the program is the excitement in the kids when I showed up,” McCollum said.
The Arkansas students met with U.S. Senator John Boozman during their trip to Washington D.C. during award recognition events.
“Alexandria and Joseph’s hard work, dedication and passion for helping people in the community is evident through their actions. I encourage them to continue their efforts and challenge others in the community to make a difference,” Boozman said.The Prudential Spirit of Community Award represents the nation’s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. The award was created in 1995 by Prudential in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals to honor middle and high school students.