There may be no sweeter — or yummier — way to help a good cause than to participate in this year's Cupcake Camp Santa Barbara, from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 24 at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara.
Solvang and Brentwood students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation’s capital. Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in San Jose, San Clemente, Trabuco Canyon, Santa Rosa, Palo Alto, El Dorado Hills, Oceanside, and Coto De Caza
SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Blakely Colvin, 16, of Solvang and Tyler Page, 13, of Brentwood today were named California's top two youth volunteers for 2011 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The awards program, now in its 16th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Blakely was nominated by Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Ynez, and Tyler was nominated by J. Douglas Adams Middle School in Brentwood. As State Honorees, 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 several days of national recognition events. Ten of them will be named America’s top youth volunteers for 2011 at that time.
Blakely, a junior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, launched a nonprofit charity that has raised $60,000 over the past three years to benefit sick children by baking and selling cupcakes. When she was in eighth grade, Blakely heard about a local boy her age who was battling leukemia. Having been treated with chemotherapy for an auto-immune disease years earlier, she empathized with him immediately. “I thought if I could just put a smile on Kevin’s face, it would be so awesome,” she said. Since Blakely loved cupcakes, she decided to bake homemade cupcakes and sell them once a week after school for $1. With help from her mother, friends, and student volunteers, Blakely raised $5,000 for Kevin’s family in just six weeks.
Surprised by her success, Blakely didn’t want to stop. She acquired a tent and began setting up a miniature cupcake “shop” at parades, sporting events, and other events around town to sell her cupcakes. She and her mother also hosted a huge cupcake tasting and competition event with 40 cupcake vendors, which drew more than 900 people. With the $60,000 her “Cupcakes for Cancer” campaign has earned so far, Blakely granted wishes for six ill children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, donated $10,000 to the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara, and granted a college scholarship to a deserving high school senior. In addition, she is encouraging young people in other communities to bake and sell their own cupcakes, and donate the proceeds to a national pediatric cancer research foundation. Kids and schools in nine states have signed on to date. “The feeling that comes from helping is so special and so rewarding that it stays with you,” said Blakely.
Tyler, an eighth-grader at J. Douglas Adams Middle School, held a carwash hoping to rescue just one child from being sold into slavery in Ghana, but ended up sparking a kids’ fund-raising enterprise that has involved hundreds of young people and has generated more than $100,000 for a variety of children’s causes. When he was 10, Tyler saw a television program about children in Ghana sold by their parents into forced fishing labor. “I couldn’t stand how they were being treated, so I decided to do something about it,” he said. He proposed the idea of a carwash to his fourth-grade class, and invited everyone who wanted to help. Tyler’s goal was to raise $240 – enough to support one Ghanaian child for a year. But when the carwash was over, he had $1,175 in hand.
Realizing then the power of kids to make a difference, Tyler started recruiting young people throughout his community to help him raise money. They hosted more carwashes, sold cookies, set up lemonade stands, and conducted other fund-raisers. His mother helped him establish a nonprofit organization called Kids Helping Kids and a website to inspire kids everywhere to make a difference in their communities, and to support their own fund-raising ideas. To date, $100,000 has been raised to aid children in Ghana, as well as to provide books for young victims of Hurricane Katrina, meals for local needy families, candy for troops in Iraq, assistance to kids with major medical expenses, and other causes. “The funny thing is, I’ve learned that it really isn’t about the money at all,” said Tyler. “It seems to me that it is really about connecting the human spirit.”
“These award recipients have proven that young people across America are critical to the future of our neighborhoods, our nation, and our world,” said John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. “Each and every one of these honorees deserve our respect and admiration, and we hope by shining a light on them, they will continue to serve as an example for others.”
“The young people recognized by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards demonstrate an enormous capacity for giving and reaching out to those in need,” said Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. “NASSP is proud to honor these student leaders because they are wonderful examples of the high caliber of young people in our nation’s schools today.”
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 affiliates of HandsOn Network, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award this past November. More than 5,000 Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria such as personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees will tour the capital’s landmarks, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. In addition, 10 of them – five middle level and five high school students – will be named National Honorees on May 2 by a prestigious national selection committee. These 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.
Serving on the national selection committee will be John Strangfeld of Prudential; Jana Frieler, president of NASSP; Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of the Points of Light Institute & Hands On 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; Elson Nash, associate director for project management at the Corporation for National and Community Service; Michael Cohen, president and CEO of Achieve, Inc.; and two 2010 Prudential Spirit of Community National Honorees: Shannon McNamara of Basking Ridge, N.J., and Benjamin Sater of Plano, Texas.
In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program will be distributing President’s Volunteer Service Awards to more than 2,800 of its Local Honorees this year on behalf of President Barack Obama. The President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represent the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. Since the program began in 1995, more than 95,000 young volunteers nationwide have been honored at the local, state or national level. Many prominent public figures have assisted in saluting these honorees over the years, including Jimmy Carter, Barbara Bush, Magic Johnson, John Glenn, Madeleine Albright, Rudy Giuliani, Whoopi Goldberg, Colin Powell, Peyton Manning, Laura Bush, and Condoleezza Rice. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland and India.
For information on all of this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit spirit.prudential.com or www.nassp.org/spirit.
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