Indiana’s Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 21st Annual National Awards Program

Carmel and Schererville students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Newburgh, Indianapolis,
Zionsville, Colfax and Demotte

INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kamna Gupta, 18, of Carmel and Esha Mishra, 14, of Schererville today
were named Indiana’s top two youth volunteers of 2016 by The Prudential
Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people
for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Kamna was nominated by Girl Scouts
of Central Indiana in Indianapolis, and Esha was nominated by Forest
Ridge Academy in Schererville. The Prudential Spirit of Community
Awards, now in its 21st year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in
partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals

Kamna, a junior at Carmel High School, has collected and distributed
more than 2,350 pounds of gently used shoes to people in third-world
countries through “Souls for Shoes,” the nonprofit organization she
founded in 2013 after a trip to India. It was there that Kamna
encountered a beggar who was wearing sandals he had fashioned from two
empty water bottles and hay. “To aid him, I gave him sandals purchased
from a store, upon which he rejoiced,” said Kamna. The experience got
her thinking. She and most people she knew thought nothing of tossing
out a pair of perfectly good shoes simply because they were out of
style. Yet, she had no doubt that there were millions of people all over
the world, who, like the man in India, couldn’t afford to own even one
pair of shoes. She came home determined to change that.

After some research, she discovered Shoe Box Recycling, a company that
sends boxes of donated shoes abroad. It agreed to handle the shoes Kamna
collected. She approached the executive board at her temple and received
permission to conduct a shoe drive there. It was slow going at first,
Kamna said, as she struggled to fill even a couple of boxes with
acceptable shoes. So she stepped up her efforts to publicize her project
by developing a website, designing fliers and cards to remind people to
bring shoes, and persuading corporations and civic organizations to hold
shoe drives. She also recruited more than 40 volunteers and trained them
to lead shoe drives at school and to canvass neighborhoods for
donations. Kamna estimates her efforts have helped put shoes on the feet
of more than 15,000 needy people in 15 countries.

Esha, an eighth-grader at Forest Ridge Academy, organized a collection
drive at her school that yielded thousands of school supplies for
poverty-stricken children in Nepal. Esha visited the central Asian
country last spring with her family, and was stunned to see the poverty
there. “The kids barely had anything!” she said. Two weeks after Esha
returned home, a major earthquake devastated Nepal. “I thought, if these
kids had so little before the earthquake, they must be in even worse
conditions now,” she said. “I knew I had to do something.”

Esha brainstormed ideas with her family, and created a plan to collect
school supplies in her school community for kids in Nepal. After
obtaining the support of her principal, she set up a collection table at
her school and began visiting classrooms to make PowerPoint
presentations about her campaign. Before long, Esha had collected
thousands of items, including pencils, pens, books, crayons, paints,
notebooks and markers. The supplies were packaged and shipped to a
thousand-student elementary school in Nepal. Esha said she is determined
to send shipments to the school every year. “By providing this school
with supplies, the children will have the tools they need to get a
better education,” she said.

As State Honorees, Kamna and Esha 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 2016.

Distinguished Finalists

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

These are Indiana’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Landon Eisenhut, 16, of Newburgh, Ind., a sophomore at Castle
High School, created “iSENIOR,” a nonprofit organization that brings 30
trained teen volunteers into senior communities to teach senior citizens
how to use and take advantage of modern technology such as cell phones
and iPads. Landon, who was inspired by his grandfather’s desire to
understand technology, founded the group in 2014 to keep seniors
connected to their loved ones and to the world.

April Gettelfinger, 17, of Indianapolis, Ind., a senior at Perry
Meridian High School, is in the middle of her two-year term as
lieutenant governor of the Key Clubs in Indianapolis after serving as an
active Key Club member since her freshman year, including a role as her
school’s club president. In her role, April has brought the Key Clubs
together in numerous joint service projects such as volunteering at food
pantries, raising money for Project Smile, and hosting a senior citizen

Victoria Martine, 16, of Zionsville, Ind., a junior at Zionsville
Community High School, has raised $2,100 in the past five years to
support an orphanage in Guatemala with the proceeds of a book she wrote
called “The Hundred Dollar Sock.” Victoria, who promotes and sells her
book through book signing events, was given permission to volunteer for
one week at the orphanage in 2013, despite being too young according to
its policy, because of her fundraising efforts.

Adarius Reese, 13, of Indianapolis, Ind., an eighth-grader at
Chapel Hill 7th & 8th Grade Center, is active in his school as a member
of student council and a peer mentor in his school’s Connected Giants
program, for which he also participates in service projects such as food
and toiletry drives. Adarius also volunteers at his church’s food
pantry, where he helps to pack bags of food and distribute them to those
in need.

Braden Smith, 16, of Colfax, Ind., a member of the Montgomery
County 4-H and a sophomore at North Montgomery High School, secured
$1,250 in grants and sponsorships to fund the materials to build more
than 400 square feet of new shelving for the Caring Center food pantry
so its space could hold more items. Braden, who managed a crew of 14
volunteers, also helped to sort and store food items into 130 storage
bins that are housed on the new shelves he built.

Jared Stemper, 18, of Demotte, Ind., a senior at Kankakee Valley
High School, is a lifelong Boy Scout who is currently the leader of his
patrol and is working toward his Eagle Scout project. Jared, who is also
a certified member of the select Boy Scout group the “Order of the
Arrow,” actively volunteers at the local food bank.

“Prudential commends each of these young volunteers for using their
creativity and compassion to bring positive change to their
communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope
their stories inspire others to consider how they can make a difference,

“We are pleased to honor these students not only for their exemplary
acts of service, but for the powerful example they’ve set for their
peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP.
“Congratulations to each of the 2016 honorees.”

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 service. All
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 HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select
a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
These 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

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 2, 10 of the State Honorees –
five middle level and five high school students – will be named
America’s top youth volunteers of 2016. 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.

Since the program began in 1995, more than 115,000 young volunteers have
been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is
conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan,
Ireland, India, China and Brazil. In addition to granting its own
awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also
distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local
Honorees on behalf of President Barack Obama.

For information on all of this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community
State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit


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 States and 35 countries around the world. The association
connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research,
education, and student programs. NASSP 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 experiences. Reflecting its long-standing
commitment to student leadership development, 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

About Prudential Financial

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: For full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards
program logo and medallions, click here:


Prudential Financial
Harold Banks, (973) 802-8974 or (973) 216-4833