Student Named Outstanding Youth Volunteer

February 17, 2004
Kiera Zitelman, a seventh grade student at Takoma Park Middle School, has been named one of Maryland's top two youth volunteers for 2004 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Zitelman was recognized for organizing an effort to make 60 bagged lunches at her church each month and distribute them to a local homeless shelter.

When she was 8 years old, Zitelman received a gift of $20, which she donated to a charity for the homeless. She began making and selling greeting cards and organized a neighborhood concert, which raised another $80. She donated that money to Happy Helpers for the Homeless, founded in Maryland by former Prudential Spirit of Community honoree Amber Coffman, who then asked Zitelman to start a chapter in Montgomery County. Zitelman recruited a dozen young volunteers at her church to make, bag and distribute lunches for the homeless. She also has conducted a canned food drive for the homeless and coordinates barbecues, holiday parties, and other special events at the homeless shelter.

The two state honorees will receive $1,000 each and an engraved silver medallion. On May 3 in Washington, D.C., they will join the top two honorees - one middle level and one high school level - from each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico at a ceremony where 10 of the state honorees will be named America's top 10 youth volunteers of the year. They will receive an additional $5,000, gold medallion, and crystal trophy, and will have $250,000 in children's products donated in their names to needy children in their communities.

The awards program, now in its ninth year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. More than 20,000 high school and middle school students submitted applications for this year's program.

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