WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Angus S. King Jr. (I-ME) today met with Maine’s two top youth volunteers of 2013, Katherine Elliot of Scarborough and Marissa Bates of Westbrook. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program named Katherine and Marissa as Maine’s top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February.
The state honorees were recognized in the nation’s capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 18th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. They each received a $1,000 prize, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where they joined the top honorees from each state and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events.
“It was a pleasure to meet Katie and Marissa and congratulate them on their impressive achievement,” Sen. King said, according to a press release. “Their initiative, leadership, and dedication to helping others are inspiring and serve as an example for us all. I have no doubt that they will continue to do great things and I wish them the best of luck in all of their endeavors.”
Katie Elliot, a senior at Scarborough High School, established her own charity, “The Driving Force,” in November 2011. Every month, she picks one nonprofit to support, contacts its officials to determine what they need most, and then recruits area teenagers to help collect and deliver donations. Katie created a Facebook page that she uses to communicate with her volunteers and publicizes her drives by hanging posters and stuffing mailboxes.
Her charity has assisted a Ronald McDonald House, the Salvation Army, the Preble Street Soup Kitchen, the Center for Grieving Children, the Animal Refuge League, the Lighthouse Shelter, Children’s Miracle Network, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Marissa, a member of the Girl Scouts of Maine and a fifth-grader at Westbrook Middle School, came up with the idea of a “mitten tree” to distribute mittens and warm hats to students who need them. Marissa brought the idea to her Girl Scout troop, which agreed to work with her on the project. After collecting donations of mittens and hats from friends and family members, the scouts set up a tree at an elementary school. The project was a success and a local dry cleaning company heard about the project and agreed to help keep the trees stocked all winter.
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 HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award.