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Missouri's Youth Volunteers Selected in 19th Annual National Awards Program
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, February 15, 2014 - Samantha Caraway, 18, of Kirksville and Sarah Eisenman, 13, of St. Louis today were named Missouri's top two youth volunteers of 2014 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Samantha was nominated by Kirksville High School in Kirksville, and Sarah was nominated by Ladue Middle School in St. Louis. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 19th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Samantha, a senior at Kirksville High School, has been a fundraiser and goodwill ambassador for the Children's Miracle Network for the past four years, as well as a regional Miss Missouri Outstanding Teen who has worked to promote positive behaviors among young people.

Samantha became involved with the Children's Miracle Network after the organization provided significant medical care to her brother and a close friend. Grateful for that care, Samantha vowed to raise as much money as possible for the network. She partnered with Truman State University's fraternities and sororities to hold a fundraiser that collected $5,000, sponsored "Cheer for a Miracle" camps, and organized father-daughter and mother-son events.

Sarah, an eighth-grader at Ladue Middle School, provided more than 1,000 donated books and created a reading room for a lodging facility that provides accommodations and support to people who travel to St. Louis for medical treatment. During a visit to HavenHouse, Sarah noticed there were very few books for children or adults to read during their stays. "I love reading, and wanted to help others who might not have access to good books," she said.

Her solution was to launch a book drive at her school, which brought in more than 1,000 books. She sorted all of the books by age level, labeled them, and then recruited friends and family members to help set up several reading areas at HavenHouse. Books for babies and toddlers were placed in a new Dr. Seuss-themed reading room that Sarah designed and decorated. Nonfiction books were delivered to the facility's computer/reference room, three large bookshelves were filled in an existing library, and extra books were placed in a common living room area. To celebrate the completion of her project, Sarah held a Dr. Seuss pajama party featuring crafts, games and readings from Dr. Seuss books. "Now HavenHouse guests of all ages have some good books to read," she said.

As State Honorees, Samantha and Sarah each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May 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 events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2014.

The program judges also recognized six other Missouri students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Missouri's Distinguished Finalists for 2014:

Sarah Casteel, 17, of Clayton, MO, a senior at Clayton High School; August Clark, 18, of Ballwin, MO; Arthur Hale, 18, of Forsyth, MO; Joseph Reyes, 18, of Pottersville, MO, a senior at Dora High School; Ryan Schweitzer, 18, of Hillsboro, MO; and, Maryn White, 13, of Lee's Summit, MO.

"We applaud each of these young people for their exemplary volunteer service," said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. "They use their time and talents to make a meaningful difference in their communities, and we hope their example inspires others to do the same."

"By going above and beyond in their volunteer service, these students have brought positive change to communities across the country," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. "Congratulations to each and every one of them on this well-deserved honor."

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 Hill. On May 5, 10 of the State Honorees - five middle level and five high school students - will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2014. These 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.

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Archived Stories:
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Red DotGrants Awarded for the Maritz Arts and Education Fund for Teachers

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