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S.C. students named top volunteers

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Alyssa Gottheiner and Gracey Chafin have received Prudential Spirit of Community Awards as the state’s top youth volunteers.

The program is conducted by Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Gottheiner, 15, earned the high school state honor after organizing a student essay contest and community day to help improve relations between law enforcement agencies and residents of Manning.

“The goal was to provide positive interactions for the benefit of law enforcement and the community,” the sophomore at Laurence Manning Academy said. “First responders work so hard dedicating their lives to our community. I want them to know how much we appreciate what they do and the sacrifices they make for us.”

Her program is called Clarendon County Hometown Heroes.

Chafin, 11, earned the middle school state honor after collecting donations for a local children’s hospital for five-plus years, amassing more than 10,000 toys, books and games.

“The need of the hospital is so substantial, it is an overwhelming task,” said Chafin, a student at Leavelle McCampbell Middle School. “But when an entire community comes together, the task is so much more manageable.”

Other finalists include Victoria Etheridge (Ridgeland), Grace Gehlken (Charleston), Isabella Muntean (Greer) and Nikole Rivers (St. George).

“Prudential is proud to recognize these young people for using their energy, creativity and compassion to bring change to their communities,” said John Strangfeld, Prudential CEO. “We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same.”

Gottheiner and Chafin each earned $1,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet the other national honorees.

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