“I have always been passionate about being a positive role model for those younger than me,” said Kelby.
Two years ago, her experience as a camp counselor to 20 young girls persuaded her that she should become a mentor as well.
Last year, Kelby recruited seventh- and eighth-graders from 10 area schools and challenged them to come up with ideas on how to raise money for St. Jude.
“The ideas that these students came up with amazed me,” she said.
Activities such as selling the right to wear blue jeans in school and selling paper hearts to decorate and sign raised more than $4,000 for the children’s hospital in just two weeks. Through these activities, the volunteers developed “a new passion for volunteerism and helping others,” Kelby said.
A few months later, Kelby guided her young protégés in a fundraising campaign that asked area businesses to “adopt” classrooms and donate one dollar for every class member to the Children’s Miracle Network. More than $3,000 was raised in one week.
“I was more than inspired by these hardworking students,” said Kelby. They “were able to learn an important lesson about volunteerism: you are never too young to make an impact.”
Taylor, a seventh-grader at Warrensburg Middle School, hosts a monthly “game night” for kids to raise money for a variety of charities. An avid golfer, Taylor witnessed a simple act of generosity one day on a practice driving range, and decided that she, too, would like to help others. She investigated service opportunities such as volunteering at a hospital, but was told that she was too young. Taylor then resolved to start her own project: a charity club that would employ fun and games to make a difference.
At Taylor’s “Game Night for Charity” events, kids from 11 to 14 years old make small donations to play board games, and then the winner gets to choose a charity that will receive that evening’s donations. Taylor’s events have benefited an animal shelter, cancer foundation, children’s hospital, women’s center, youth sports program, and a local girl with bone cancer. Taylor and her fellow philanthropists also work on other service projects, such as selling handmade calendars for charity and picking up trash on school grounds.
“I try to be a good role model for other girls,” said Taylor. “Part of that means bringing awareness to charities that need our help.”
“Through their extraordinary acts of volunteerism, these students are powerful examples of the way one young person can make a big impact,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. “We are proud to honor them for their achievements, and hope their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can make a difference.”
More than 26,000 young people participated in the 2012 awards program last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. The top middle level and high school applicants in each state were selected in February, and flown to Washington this week with their parents for four days of special recognition events.
Conducted in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created 17 years ago by Prudential Financial to encourage youth volunteerism and to identify and reward young role models. Since then, the program has honored more than 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.