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TMCNet:  Wisconsin's Jordyn Schara of North Freedom Named One of America's Top Ten Youth Volunteers

[May 07, 2012]

Wisconsin's Jordyn Schara of North Freedom Named One of America's Top Ten Youth Volunteers

WASHINGTON --(Business Wire)--

Jordyn Schara, 17, of North Freedom, Wis., was named one of America's top 10 youth volunteers of 2012 today in a ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, winning a national Prudential Spirit of Community Award for her outstanding volunteer service. Selected from a field of more than 26,000 youth volunteers across the country, Jordyn received a personal award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for her school, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit charitable organization of her choice.

New York Giants quarterback and 2012 Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning congratulates Jordyn Schara, 17, of ...

New York Giants quarterback and 2012 Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning congratulates Jordyn Schara, 17, of North Freedom (center) and Zach Harmon, 13, of New Berlin (right) on being named Wisconsin's top two youth volunteers for 2012 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Jordyn and Zach were honored at a ceremony on Sunday, May 6 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, where they each received a $1,000 award.

Also honored this week in Washington, D.C. was Zach Harmon, 13, of New Berlin. He and Jordyn were named Wisconsin's top youth volunteers of 2012 in Februrary, and were officially recognized last night at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History along with the top two youth volunteers in each state and the District of Columbia. At that event, each of the 102 State Honorees for 2012 received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from New York Giants quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. The honorees also received engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with their parents to Washington, D.C., for this week's recognition events.

Jordyn, a junior at Reedsburg Area High School, created a nonprofit organization that collects and disposes of unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals so that they do not end up in the water supply, while raising awareness of prescription drug abuse. "What would you do if you discovered that your community's drinking water contained traces of someone else's birth control, antibiotics or heart medicine?" Jordyn asked. "I discovered that when we dump our unwanted or expired drugs down the drain or the toilet, they contaminate our groundwater!" As she researched this problem, she also learned that teens are increasingly abusing prescription drugs, which are often found in their own medicine cabinets. Jordyn decided someone needed to address these issues.

She contacted various government agencies, but none wanted to get involved, Jordyn said. So, she decided to take on the project herself. She started by seeking help from local police, healthcare professionals, hospitals, civic organizations, businesses, community leaders and teen volunteers. Then, she drafted a plan that could be replicated in communities across the country. When town officials decided not to apply for a state drug grant, Jordyn applied herself and obtained funds to purchase disposal containers and other supplies. She hosted several drug collection events, and began helping teens and adults in other communities start their own programs. Jordyn's model is now being implemented in 17 states, and last year more than 376,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected and safely disposed of. She also makes speeches and public service announcements about teen prescription drug abuse and has begun to distribute drug lock boxes so families can safely secure their medications.

Zach, a seventh-grader at New Berlin West Middle/High School, celebrates his birthday every year by conducting a food drive for a local food pantry, and last year alone delivered more than 4,500 pounds of food to feed hungry families. Zach got the idea for his annual "Z-Drive" when he saw the TV show "American Idol Gives Back." "I was amazed at how many people were living so poorly and had nothing," he said. Coincidentally, the very next day he saw a newspaper article about the local food pantry's need for more food to fill its shelves. Zach asked his parents if he could use money he had just received for his birthday to buy food for the pantry. He called the facility to see what was needed, bought the items and delivered them. "I saw what a need there was," he said. So, Zach decided to hold a food drive every April, the month of his birthday.

Zach started by spreading the word through email, word-of-mouth and posting flyers round town. To help, some of his classmates wheeled wagons door-to-door collecting food, some of his teachers held canned food drives in their classrooms and parents told their co-workers. Zach placed a bin at his front door for drop-offs and offered to pick up donations at people's homes. Every year, he stores the donated food in his basement and, with the help of his family, sorts and weighs the food before delivering truckloads to the pantry. After the food drive is over, he plans for the next year by updating his computer with new contacts and sending thank you notes to donors. "One of the most memorable parts of volunteering is seeing the shelves full of items that I collected," said Zach.

"Through their extraordinary acts of volunteerism, these students are powerful examples of the way one young person can make a big impact," said John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. "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.

In addition to Jordyn, the other National Honorees are:

Candonino Agusen, 17, of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, a junior at Kealakehe High School, who has helped raise more than $64,000 to buy temporary housing kits for people displaced by the earthquake in Japan last year.

Matthew Benjamin, 14, of Tulsa, Okla., an eighth-grader at Regent Preparatory School, who has raised more than $30,000 to build a home for 33 orphans in Uganda by attracting sponsorships as he trained and ran in a half-marathon last year.

Neha Gupta, 15, of Yardley, Pa., a sophomore at Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, who has founded a nonprofit organization that has raised more than $375,000 to provide educational and other resources to disadvantaged children in India and the United States.

Samantha Kerker, 17, of Boca Raton, Fla., a junior at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach, who has founded a student club with chapters in all 28 high schools in Palm Beach County to promote monthly service projects benefiting poor people, and is now working to send 60 students on a poverty-focused mission to a third-world country.

Emily Kladar, 12, of Hayden Lake, Idaho, a sixth-grader at Canfield Middle School in Coeur d'Alene, who has created a nonprofit charity with her sister that has raised more than $60,000 to benefit the families of children needing heart surgery.

Catherine Mitchell, 16, of Oceanside, Calif., a senior at Guajome Park Academy in Vista, who has created 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.

Raymond Mohler, 14, of Lynbrook, N.Y., an eighth-grader at Lynbrook South Middle School, who has created a foundation to help alleviate the pain, fear and anxiety felt by young hospital patients by providing toys and other gifts, arranging celebrity visits and assembling mobile entertainment centers.

Gracie Schram, 13, of Leawood, Kan., an eighth-grader at Leawood Middle School, who has recorded and sold copies of a CD that raised more than $20,000 to build two fish ponds in Africa and a home for 12 orphaned boys in Haiti.

Ashlee Smith, 13, of Sparks, Nev., a member of the Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross in Reno and a seventh-grader at Lou Mendive Middle School, who has founded a nonprofit organization that has collected and distributed more than 175,000 toys over the past five years for child victims of house fires and natural disasters.

The national selection committee that chose the National Honorees was chaired by Strangfeld and included Ken Griffith, president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals; Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of the Points of Light & HandsOn Network; Marguerite Kondracke, president and CEO of the America's Promise Alliance; Donald T. Floyd Jr., president and CEO of National 4-H Council; Pamela Farr, the American Red Cross' national chair of volunteers; Jaclyn Libowitz, chief operating officer and chief of staff for Girl Scouts of the USA; Felix Rouse, vice president of resource development for the southeast region of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Elson Nash, senior advisor for strategic partnerships at the Corporation for National and Community Service; Kate Blosveren, associate director for strategic communication and outreach of Achieve, Inc.; and two 2011 Prudential Spirit of Community National Honorees: Sarah Cronk of Bettendorf, Iowa, and Rujul Zaparde of Plainsboro, N.J.

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.

"These young people have demonstrated remarkable leadership, selflessness and compassion, and they set a fine example for thousands of other students across the U.S. who want to make a difference," said Ken Griffith, president of NASSP. "The actions of these young volunteers exemplify the best of what America's youth have to offer."

More information about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year's honorees can be found at or

NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding

commitment to student leadership development as well, NASSP administers the National Honor Society™, National Junior Honor Society®, National Elementary Honor Society®, and National Association of Student Councils®. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential'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 management. In the U.S., Prudential's iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit

[Editors: Full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions are available at]

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