(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana's top two youth volunteers of 2020, Emily Graves, 17, of La Porte and Margaret Dimmett, 14, of Zionsville, were recognized this weekend for their outstanding volunteer service during the 25th annual, and first-ever virtual, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards national recognition celebration.
Emily, a senior at New Prairie High School, founded a nonprofit organization that has delivered more than 35,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to active and former military personnel at home and abroad over the past decade. When Emily was 6, her mother challenged her to think about how she could use the Girl Scout cookies she was selling to help others. Emily bought several boxes with her own money, solicited donations to buy 600 more, and contacted veterans' organizations to help her ship them to service members. "Active military members are separated from their homes and families," she explained. "I wanted to give them a piece of home, something comforting in the midst of uncertainty."
In recognition of the spirit of service that they have demonstrated in their communities, Emily and Margaret – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – were also each given $2,500 to donate toward the local COVID-19 response efforts of a nonprofit organization of their choice. These funds come in addition to the $1,000 scholarship and engraved silver medallion they earned as Indiana's top youth volunteers of 2020.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Emily and Margaret Indiana's top high school and middle-level youth volunteers in February.
"Over the past 25 years, this program has honored students spanning three generations, and the common thread between them has been the determination of young people to respond to the challenges of the moment," said Charles Lowrey, chairman, and CEO of Prudential Financial. "Who better than this group of young leaders from all over the country to help identify and direct resources to community needs arising from COVID-19?"
As State Honorees, Emily and Margaret also earned an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the program's annual national recognition events; the trip, however, was canceled due to COVID-19 and changed to a three-day online celebration this past weekend. In addition to remarks and congratulations from actress Kristen Bell, honorees had opportunities to connect with each other through online project-sharing sessions, learn about service and advocacy from accomplished past Spirit of Community honorees, hear congratulatory remarks from Lowrey and NASSP Executive Director and CEO JoAnn Bartoletti, and more.