David Resnick, 18, of Roswell and Kelsey Hirsch, 13, of Cumming were named Georgia's top youth volunteers of 2013 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, while Ben Bearup, 14, of Alpharetta and Shaun Verma, 17, of Milton were recognized as Distinguished Finalists.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is part of a national program honoring middle level and high school students for outstanding volunteer service.
As state honorees, Resnick and Hirsch each will receive $1,000, engraved silver medallions and all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., where they will join 100 other top youth volunteers from across the United States for four days of national recognition events, according to a release by Prudential.
Ben Bearup, 14, of Alpharetta, an eighth-grader at Webb Bridge Middle School, co-founded “Sheltering Books,” a nonprofit organization that has provided more than 155,000 gently-used books to homeless shelters in the United States, as well as to schools in need in other countries, VA hospitals and the military. Ben, whose sister co-founded the organization with him, has raised more than $65,000 to fund shipping costs and has partnered with agencies and companies across the country to help donate and distribute books.
Shaun Verma, 17, of Milton, a senior at Milton High School, founded “MDJunior,” an organization that brings together medical professionals with middle and high school students in underserved communities to help inspire children. Shaurya has raised more than $40,000 to support the organization, which today has 20 chapters in seven states, 114 mentors and nearly 600 participating students.
Resnick, Georgia's high school state honoree, was honored for playing a leadership role in an organization that throws an annual holiday party for more than 750 children from homeless shelters throughout Atlanta. Hirsch, Georgia's middle level state honoree, was honored for selling more than $14,000 worth of silicone wristbands to help the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) respond to a recent surge in call volume from victims of sexual violence.
The program also recognized four other Distinguished Finalists from Georgia:
- Julia Abelsky, 18, of Atlanta
- Mary Claire Birdsong, 18, of Augusta
- Chase Czaykowsky, 15, of Lawrenceville
- Sara McCorkle, 17, of Claxton
The Distinguished Finalists each will receive engraved bronze medallions.