Damacia Howard, 13, of Union City, was named one of Georgia's top two youth volunteers of 2016 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
(Damacia Howard and Devneet Singh was named Georgia's top two youth volunteers by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Image courtesy Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.)Damacia was nominated by Georgia Cyber Academy in College Park, where she currently attends school.
A seventh-grader, Damacia has collected thousands of books in her community for students in Africa, working with a national charity called Books for Africa. Damacia was looking for a community service project to take on in conjunction with her membership in the National Junior Beta Club and her title of 2015 Miss Georgia Pre-Teen Spokes Model. She researched possible projects with her mother, and upon learning that books are desperately needed in Africa, she knew she’d found her mission.
“Education is important,” she said, “and when help can be given to children in other countries, I feel those of us that can help should.”
Damacia started by packing up books out of her own collection, and then asked friends and family members for help. She spoke to middle school students about her effort, obtained some publicity on a radio program and set up a collection drive at her church. All of the books she collected were turned over to Books for Africa to be shipped overseas. In addition to providing a valuable educational resource to African kids, Damacia’s project has helped emphasize “what a privilege it is to have access to books via libraries, schools, electronic devices and bookstores,” she said. “Knowing that helps me not take books for granted.”
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. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
Devneet Singh, 17, of Duluth joins Damacia as Georgia's top two youth volunteers of 2016.
As State Honorees, Devneet and Damacia each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2016.