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

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

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Yardley, York, Bensalem,
West Chester, Chalfont, Meyersdale, Washington and Pittsburgh

HARRISBURG, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Colin Harding, 17, of Pittsburgh and Grace Preston, 11, of Brockway
today were named Pennsylvania’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. Colin was nominated
by Baldwin High School in Pittsburgh, and Grace was nominated by
Brockway Area Elementary School in Brockway. 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 (NASSP).

Colin, a senior at Baldwin High School, donated $7,500 worth of toys,
video games, books and other items last year to Children’s Hospital of
Pittsburgh. When Colin was 13, his appendix burst, an emergency that
required weeks of hospitalization. During that time, Colin made friends
with a member of the hospital’s Child Life team, who invited him to hang
out in the activity room or, when he was too sick to leave his room,
brought activities to Colin’s bedside to alleviate his boredom. “They
took amazing care of both myself and my mother,” said Colin. Even so, he
found being in the hospital pretty boring as there was “not much
entertainment for teens, especially those into video games.” When Colin
was ready to finally go home, he asked the Child Life employees what
items they wished they had to improve the stay of every child, and vowed
that someday he would find a way to help.

That day came last September when, list in hand, Colin went to work. He
registered his “wish list” at Toys-R-Us and then solicited support from
local businesses, distributed fliers around the community, and asked
family members and friends for donations. The items he donated to the
hospital included foosball, bumper pool and air hockey tables, a
projector and screen for movie nights, sound and lighting systems, games
and gaming items and sports equipment, as well as dolls and other toys.
The day he delivered his trailer full of donations was a proud one for
Colin. “They were not prepared for the amount of donations,” he said.
Colin continues to help children as a summer volunteer working in the
hospital’s playrooms and at school in a special gym class for children
with physical challenges.

Grace, a sixth-grader at Brockway Area Elementary School, has raised
more than $4,000 over the past three years to improve the lives of
animals in her community by selling homemade dog treats, cat toys, and
flea and tick repellent. Grace become interested in orphan animals after
her family adopted a dog from a local shelter. “I wished that all
animals could be lucky enough to find homes,” she said. “Since my
parents wouldn’t let me adopt all the animals at the shelter, I wanted
to help them while they were waiting for homes.” Grace read about a girl
who asked that her birthday party guests donate to a hospital’s
children’s unit in lieu of buying her gifts. Grace liked the idea and
decided to do the same thing on her eighth birthday, requesting
donations to the animal shelter. Helping the animals felt so good that
Grace wanted to do more. That was when she started “Grace’s Goodies.”

With the help of her mother, Grace found a recipe for dog biscuits,
commandeered the family kitchen, and started baking. She sold the
biscuits and other products at local farmer’s markets, festivals and
through a Facebook page. She also placed donation cans around her town,
and appealed for help on fundraising websites. With the money she’s
raised, Grace has enabled the local Humane Society to purchase a storage
shed, as well as other supplies such as rabies gloves. Grace also has
provided animal oxygen mask kits to the fire department for pets caught
in fires, helped pay for a shelter dog’s surgery, and collected pet food
for families who can’t afford to feed their animals.

As State Honorees, Colin and Grace 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 eight other Pennsylvania students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Pennsylvania’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Aaron Albuck, 17, of Yardley, Pa., a senior at Pennsbury High
School, was elected co-chair for the 2015 International Convention for
the United Synagogue Youth, the first time the organization has ever
chosen a high school volunteer for the position. Aaron, who has been
active in the organization since the ninth grade with roles including
chapter president and Philadelphia region vice president, coordinated
the educational, social and religious programming to inspire the
convention’s 1,000 attendees to generate change in the world.

Elaina Clark, 16, of York, Pa., a junior at Christian School of
York, has helped to raise $140,000 over the past five years to support a
number of charitable causes as an active member and current president of
executive relations for Teens Stand for Charities (TSFC), a teen-led
nonprofit organization in her town. Much of the funds are raised in the
annual “Acts in Motion Adventure Race,” and have gone to provide food
for the hungry, clothing for the homeless and wells for fresh drinking
water in West Africa.

Angela Farinella, 13, of Bensalem, Pa., a seventh-grader at
Nazareth Academy Grade School, has raised $14,250 to support the
training and lifelong needs of support dogs through the organization
Canine Companions for Independence as the co-chair for “DogFest Philly,”
a fun event for dogs and their owners. Angela, upset that she couldn’t
train a puppy of her own to be a support dog, became the only teenager
to chair a local event, an event she intends to continue to coordinate
for many years to come.

Kathleen Gergel, 17, of West Chester, Pa., a senior at Henderson
High School, is an active community volunteer who recently raised $750
and collected 1,200 children’s books to help build a library at a
primary school in Botswana. Kathleen, who has also volunteered at her
church’s vacation Bible school and made bagged lunches for the homeless,
created a website through the African Library Project, and a GoFundMe
page to spread the word about her book drive.

Erin Kim, 18, of Chalfont, Pa., a senior at Central Bucks High
School South, has helped to raise $5,000 as the president of her
school’s Anonymous Aid Association, a club that raises funds to support
students and their families who are struggling financially. Erin, who
joined the group in 2013 and served as fundraising chair and
co-president in the past, reaches out to local businesses for their
support and helps coordinate various fundraisers and food drives to
benefit the organization.

Kendra Murray, 18, of Meyersdale, Pa., a senior at Meyersdale
Area High School, is the president of her school’s student council, and
helped her school raise $5,000 to support breast cancer research by
sponsoring a “Flamingo Flocking” pink flamingo event. Kendra, who also
organizes community cleanup days and other school activities and
fundraisers, has been involved with student council since her freshman

Sadie Presto, 16, of Washington, Pa., a junior at Trinity High
School, has helped her Relay for Life team to raise $24,000 for the
American Cancer Society by organizing and participating in a number of
events including holiday gift wrapping, bake sales and a “Bowling for
Life” event. Sadie, who has been involved with Relay for Life since
2010, also volunteers with the Greater Washington Area Food Bank, the
ladies auxiliary for the American Legion and with school clubs including
student council, Trinity Leadership Committee and Students Against
Destructive Decisions.

Kathryn Talerico, 13, of Pittsburgh, Pa., an eighth-grader at
Ingomar Middle School, has raised $20,000 since 2009 to benefit the
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation by participating in the annual
Walk to Cure Diabetes. Kathryn, who was diagnosed with the chronic
illness when she was 7 years old, has also volunteered at the
organization’s annual gala events and spoken to Congress to help
encourage votes to authorize coverage for glucose monitors for senior
citizens through Medicare.

“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