Lexi Roberson one of top two youth volunteers
Two Arkansas students have been named Top Youth Volunteers of 2018 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
Riverside seventh grade student Alexis "Lexi" Roberson of Caraway was named Middle Level State Honoree and Anna Richey of Paris High School was named High School State Honoree Youth Volunteers.
As State Honorees, Lexi and Anna will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. in late April. 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 2018.
Lexie was nominated by Riverside High School in Lake City. Among her acts of kindness and volunteerism was her campaign to provide coloring books and crayons to children at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in memory of her friend, Bailey, who passed away in 2016.
"Bailey said coloring helped take her mind off being sick for a little while and she dreamed of collecting coloring books and crayons for other sick children," Lexi said. "She did not get the chance to make her dream come true so I started Books for Bailey in her memory."
Lexi asked for donations on Facebook and enlisted the help of her mother, the FBLA Chapter at her school, a fundraising partner, and the towns of Lake City and Caraway. Schools across the state starting helping. Lexi was able to deliver coloring books and supplies to well over a thousand children at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. She collected more than 1,500 books and 600 boxes of crayons.
Other projects Lexie has worked on include creating and distributing "survial kits" to area First Responders and providing blankets and fans, along with snack bags, to senior citizens.
Last Valentine's Day Lexi decided to give out Valentine cards to brighten people's day.
"My mom and I were eating out and I gave a card to a gentlemen," she said. "He thanked me and said it had been a long time since he had received a Valentine. When we went to pay for our meal, we were told it was paid for."
She is presently collecting soda tabs to support a Ronald McDonald House in Memphis, also in memory of her friend.
"When I got the news I had been selected as the Arkansas honoree, I went into my bedroom and cried," she said. "It is such an honor to be chosen. It is a dream come true."
Lexi has a real desire to help others and does so expecting nothing in return.
She is excited about her first trip to Washington, D.C., and her first time on an airplane.
Anna, 16, was nominated by Paris High School in Paris.
Anna, a sophomore at Paris High School, organizes an annual community “tea party” that has collected more than $100,000 in gifts and donations over the past four years to brighten the Christmas season for foster children.
The Richey sisters hosted a holiday tea party at their house and invited friends to bring gifts for foster children. Each successive year their party grew bigger, so four years ago, they made it a public event, moved it to a local community center and invited all the elementary school girls in their area. After her older sister graduated from high school, Anna assumed overall responsibility for running the party, overseeing publicity, volunteer recruitment, donation collection, and event logistics. The 2016 party alone drew more than 300 attendees and collected nearly $28,000 in gifts for 120 foster kids. Anna notes that the party also serves to make her whole community aware of the “desperate need” to improve the lives of children in foster care.
“Prudential is proud to recognize these remarkable young people for using their energy, creativity and compassion to bring meaningful change to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same.”
“These middle level and high school students have not only improved the lives of the people and communities they’ve served – they also set an important example for their peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “These honorees prove that you’re never too young to make a difference.”
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 affiliates of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network, 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 growth.
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 April 30, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2018. 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 120,000 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, Brazil and Poland. 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.
Four Distinguished finalists are from Prattsville, Rogers, El Dorado and Cabot:
The program judges also recognized four other Arkansas students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
They are Jameson Archer, 14 of Prattsville, a freshman at Sheridan Junior High School; Abigail Gearhart, 17, of Rogers, a junior at Shiloh Christian School; Riley Strube, 14, of Cabot, a freshman at Cabot Freshman Academy; Emmaline Landes, 15, of El Dorado, a sophomore at El Dorado High School.