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Arkansas’ Top Youth Volunteers Of 2018 Selected By National Program

Anna became interested in helping foster kids after four of her cousins were taken from their home and placed in foster homes throughout Arkansas. "They felt very scared and alone," she said. When Anna and her sisters learned how many children were in the ...

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Feb6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Anna Richey, 16, of Paris and Alexis Roberson, 13, of Caraway today were named Arkansas' top two youth volunteers of 2018 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerismAs State Honorees, Anna and Alexis each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in late April to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition eventsDuring the trip, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2018 The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) These are Arkansas' top youth volunteers of 2018: High School State Honoree: Anna Richey  Nominated by Paris High School in Paris Anna, a sophomore at Paris High School, organizes an annual community "tea party" that has collected more than $100,000 in gifts and donations over the past four years to brighten the Christmas season for foster childrenAnna became interested in helping foster kids after four of her cousins were taken from their home and placed in foster homes throughout Arkansas"They felt very scared and alone," she saidWhen Anna and her sisters learned how many children were in the same situation, they resolved to do something to help"We decided that no matter what the circumstances, all kids should have smiles on Christmas morning," she said The Richey sisters hosted a holiday tea party at their house and invited friends to bring gifts for foster childrenEach successive year their party grew bigger, so four years ago, they made it a public event, moved it to a local community center and invited all the elementary school girls in their areaAfter her older sister graduated from high school, Anna assumed overall responsibility for running the party, overseeing publicity, volunteer recruitment, donation collection, and event logisticsThe 2016 party alone drew more than 300 attendees and collected nearly $28,000 in gifts for 120 foster kidsAnna notes that the party also serves to make her whole community aware of the "desperate need" to improve the lives of children in foster care Middle Level State Honoree: Alexis Roberson  Nominated by Riverside High School in Lake City Alexis, a seventh-grader at Riverside High School, launched a campaign that collected more than 1,500 coloring books and 600 boxes of crayons for hospitalized children in memory of her best friend"When I was little, my mom was single and struggled to put food on the table," said AlexisThat experience sparked a desire to help others in difficult circumstancesAs a result, she has distributed "survival kits" through first responders and also provided blankets and cooling fans to nursing home residentsBut her biggest volunteer activity has been pursuing the dream of her best friend, Bailey, who passed away in 2016. Bailey said that coloring helped take her mind off being sick for a little while, and dreamed of collecting coloring books and crayons for other sick children"She never got the chance to make her dream come true," said Alexis, "so I started Books for Bailey in her memory." She asked for donations on Facebook and enlisted the help of her mother, a local FBLA chapter, a fundraising partner, and the town of Lake CitySchools across the state began helping, too, and just in time for Christmas, Alexis was able to deliver coloring books and supplies to well over a thousand smiling children at StJude Children's Research HospitalAlexis is now collecting soda can tabs to support a Ronald McDonald House in Memphis to honor her late friend Distinguished Finalists The program judges also recognized four other Arkansas students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activitiesEach will receive an engraved bronze medallion. These are Arkansas' Distinguished Finalists for 2018: Jameson Archer, 14, of Prattsville, Ark., a freshman at Sheridan Junior High School, started a community quarter drive that has raised more than $2,200 over the past four years to support her school district's food backpack program for students who don't have enough to eat at homeJameson has also worked with her youth group to provide hands-on help sorting and assembling the backpacks of food, and running a Super Bowl Sunday donation drive that's collected more than $1,500 for a food pantry. Abigail Gearhart, 17, of Rogers, Ark., a junior at Shiloh Christian School, co-founded the "Soles for Souls for Mission of Hope" shoe drive in 2015, leading efforts that have collected more than 2,500 new or gently-used pairs of shoes for people in need in HaitiAbigail, who started as a county team lead and then became the leader for the entire collection, has traveled to Haiti to deliver shoes in person; she also raised $300 to buy small gifts for orphans there by designing and selling T-shirts. Emmaline Landes, 15, of El Dorado, Ark., a sophomore at El Dorado High School, has raised more than $5,000 for local charities since 2013 through a line of paintings she calls "Heartworks," and since February 2017 alone has sold or donated more than 80 of her paintings to support causes from abandoned animals to healthcare for people with ALSEmmaline makes a point to invest in the people and missions behind each organization she supports; she also volunteers her time through her church and community service clubs. Riley Strube, 14, of Cabot, Ark., a freshman at Cabot Freshman Academy, has collected more than 300 books to create a traveling library that promotes early literacy at daycares and children's programs, and taught several other teenagers how to start similar initiativesRiley has reached more than 100 children with her "Rock and Rollin' Library" and made weekly visits over the summer to loan books and read out loud; she's now raising money to establish a mobile book trailer with hopes that it will become as much of a summer staple as the ice cream truck. "Prudential is proud to recognize these remarkable young people for using their energy, creativity and compassion to bring meaningful change to their communities," said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld"We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same." "These middle level and high school students have not only improved the lives of the people and communities they've served – they also set an important example for their peers," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP"These honorees prove that you're never too young to make a difference." About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States' largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer serviceAll public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of Points of Light's HandsOn Network, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community AwardThese Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.  While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital's landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol HillOn April 30, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2018These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.   Since the program began in 1995, more than 120,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national levelThe program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India, China, Brazil and PolandIn addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President's Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees. For information on all of this year's Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit or About NASSP The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United StatesThe association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programsNASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiencesReflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student CouncilFor more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit About Prudential Financial Prudential Financial, Inc(NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin AmericaPrudential's diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment managementIn the U.S., Prudential's iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a centuryFor more information, please visit For Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallion graphics, please visit     View original content with multimedia: SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc. 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