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

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

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Estill, Greer, New Zion
and Irmo

COLUMBIA, S.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Devin Srivastava, 17, of Spartanburg and Jackson Silverman, 10, of
Charleston today were named South Carolina’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. Devin was
nominated by Spartanburg Day School in Spartanburg, and Jackson was
nominated by Advanced Studies-Haut Gap Middle School in Johns Island.
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).

Devin, a junior at Spartanburg Day School, founded a nonprofit
organization promoting an innovative technology that can enable cancer
patients to retain their hair during chemotherapy. When Devin’s aunt was
undergoing treatment for breast cancer, “she was more terrified about
losing her hair than chemotherapy,” said Devin. After intense research,
his aunt learned about “cold cap therapy,” a little-known technique in
which breast cancer patients wear a specialized frozen cap before,
during and after chemotherapy to keep their hair from falling out. Devin
discovered that most cancer patients – and even many doctors – are
unaware of the technology, but that saving their hair can have a
dramatic impact on the success of their treatment and sense of

Seeing an opportunity to make an impact, Devin spent months working to
set up a nonprofit he calls “chemoHAIRapy,” and then built a website to
start spreading the word about cold cap therapy. But he wanted to do
more than that; he wanted to actually purchase cold caps for his local
hospital. So he organized a charity golf tournament last summer. He
secured a course for the tourney, worked with graphic designers to
design a logo, sought publicity from local media, recruited golfers, and
solicited prizes and sponsorships from local businesses. The $9,000 he
raised is being used to print brochures about cold cap therapy and to
buy an initial set of cold caps for the hospital. “My ultimate goal is
to have chemoHAIRapy become well-known in my community and throughout
South Carolina so that more families can go through the chemotherapy
process with their dignity intact,” said Devin.

Jackson, a fifth-grader at Advanced Studies-Haut Gap Middle School,
persuaded a local food bank to let him start a youth volunteer program
there in 2013 that has by now packed more than 14,000 weekend lunch bags
for kids in need. “One in four kids go hungry in my community, but kids
can’t change their lives all by themselves,” said Jackson. “That is why
I wanted to help them.” He remembered how fun it was to pack bags of
food for the hungry at his church when he was a little boy, and knew his
local food bank prepared meal bags for kids who got free lunches at
school, but had little to eat on weekends. But when he offered to help,
he was told the food bank didn’t accept volunteers of his age.

Jackson started his own nonprofit organization called “I Heart Hungry
Kids” and, after a little persuasion, got the food bank to agree to a
kid volunteer program. He invited his friends to get involved, talked to
a newspaper reporter, built a website and Facebook page, and designed a
T-shirt to raise money. At Jackson’s first food bank “packing party,” 25
youngsters packed 150 bags of food. Now, 175 kids are packing 1,500 bags
a month. “It makes me feel incredible that all these kids want to work
together to make other kids’ lives better,” said Jackson, who also has
spoken to more than 2,000 people at schools, churches and clubs about
the problem of childhood hunger.

As State Honorees, Devin and Jackson 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 four other South Carolina students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are South Carolina’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Caitlyn Banks, 11, of Estill, S.C., a fifth-grader at Patrick
Henry Academy, has hosted a coat drive two years in a row that has
collected more than 1,000 coats to benefit families who are homeless and
in need throughout South Carolina and Georgia. Caitlyn, who runs her
coat drives through the national One Warm Coat Foundation, created
posters, set up donation boxes at schools and local businesses, washed
and inspected the coats, and delivered them to the Macon Rescue Mission
and Springroad Missions during Thanksgiving week with the help of her
mother and father.

Meredith Butenhoff, 18, of Greer, S.C., a senior at Eastside High
School, founded “Made by Mer,” an organization for which she designs
websites in exchange for charitable donations — an effort that, since
January 2015, has raised $3,000 to support both Palmetto Animal Assisted
Life Services and Global Genes, an organization working to assist people
with chronic illness. Meredith, who has two chronic illnesses and is
unable to support charities in physical ways, also created “Mer Hearts,”
an educational and advocacy program that has sponsored pediatric pain
seminars for patients and their families.

Olivia McConnell, 10, of New Zion, S.C., a fifth-grader at The
Carolina Academy, founded “Liv’s Lemonade Stand” when she was 5 years
old, and since then has raised more than $24,000 selling lemonade and
cupcakes to support the March of Dimes. Olivia, who was named the March
of Dimes National Youth Volunteer in 2015, has recruited volunteers to
help, has branched out to sell T-shirts as well, and speaks to local
organizations, schools and churches on the importance of helping prevent
premature births.

Michael Templeton, 17, of Irmo, S.C., a junior at Dutch Fork High
School, co-founded a charity with his sister called “K 4 Kids,” for
which they have collected and distributed 60,000 recyclable school
supplies for teachers and schools in impoverished districts. In
addition, Michael has been his school’s mascot for three years and,
following the stabbing death of a student after a school game, donned
the fallen student’s jersey for all the school to sign in an effort to
manage students’ grief.

“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