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Search Under Way for California's Top Youth Volunteers of 2013

California's top youth volunteers of 2012 include Cecilia Cassini, 13, of Encino.

[The following information was taken from a press release issued by Prudential].

Today, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program begins its search for California's top youth volunteers of 2013.

Students in grades 5-12 are invited to apply for Prudential Spirit of Community Awards if they have made meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service within the past 12 months. Young volunteers can apply online at http://spirit.prudential.com or at www.nassp.org/spirit.

The awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial, Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), were created in 1995 to recognize middle level and high school students for helping the less fortunate, promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, or volunteering in other ways. The awards are presented annually on the local, state and national level.

“We have been recognizing youth volunteers since 1995 – and still, every year, we’re amazed by the stories of exemplary community service,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John R. Strangfeld. “We look forward to honoring the top youth volunteers of 2013 for their selflessness, their initiative and their dedication to changing communities for the better.”

California's top youth volunteers of 2012 were Catherine Mitchell, 17, of Oceanside and Cecilia Cassini, 13, of Encino.

Catherine was honored for creating a business called “Beauty 4 Life” that enables women in Uganda to earn a living and educate their children by selling their handmade paper-bead jewelry in the U.S. Cecilia was recognized for speaking to hundreds of children at schools, hospitals and shelters to encourage them to find their passions and follow their dreams, and to teach them about her own passion: sewing.

Catherine also was named one of America’s top 10 youth volunteers of 2012.

Applicants for 2013 awards must complete their online application by November 6, 2012, then submit them for certification to a middle or high school principal, Girl Scout council, county 4-H agent, American Red Cross chapter, YMCA, or affiliate of the HandsOn Network. Paper copies of the application form can be requested by calling 877-525-8491 toll-free.

Participating schools and local organizations will select Local Honorees in early November and present them with Certificates of Achievement. These Local Honorees also will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama if they have contributed the minimum number of volunteer hours to qualify (50 hours for age 14 and younger, 100 hours for older students). All Local Honorees are then reviewed by a state-level judging committee, which will name the top two candidates from each state and the District of Columbia – one high school student and one middle level student – as State Honorees on February 5, 2013. These State Honorees will receive $1,000 awards, engraved silver medallions, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., with a parent for four days of recognition events May 4-7, 2013. Runners-up at the state level will receive bronze medallions or Certificates of Excellence.

In Washington, a distinguished national selection committee will name 10 of the 102 State Honorees as America’s top youth volunteers of the year. These National Honorees will receive additional awards of $5,000, gold medallions, crystal trophies for their nominating schools or organizations, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

“We have learned in the past 17 years that, on any given day, thousands of middle and high school students are volunteering in communities across America,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “As the search begins for the top youth volunteers of 2013, we hope that our message to those students is clear: we acknowledge, respect and commend you for your service.”

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