Georgia's Top Youth Volunteers Of 2018 Selected By National Program

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Max Rubenstein, 17, of Atlanta and Angelica Krubeck, 11, of Cumming today were named Georgia's top two youth volunteers of 2018 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Max and Angelica each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in late April 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 2018.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards logo

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

These are Georgia's top youth volunteers of 2018:

High School State Honoree: Max Rubenstein
Nominated by The Galloway School in Atlanta

Max, a senior at The Galloway School, has provided thousands of new and used video games to hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses to alleviate the pain and boredom that sick children experience. Max's inspiration was his grandmother, a video game lover who used her neon green Gameboy to take her mind off of her pain while battling ovarian cancer for eight years. One day, while playing video games together, "we talked about how so many kids my age are in children's hospitals and that these facilities don't have the resources for video games," he said. 

After his grandmother died, Max decided to honor her memory by creating a charity that would provide video games and equipment for sick kids. He completed a 10-month program on how to start a nonprofit, and then began collecting donations and contacting hospitals. He conducted collection drives to obtain used games, solicited monetary donations to buy new ones, forged partnerships with video game manufacturers, and held fundraising events including game tournaments. While hospitals were enthusiastic about the prospect of video game donations, Max found that many child life specialists didn't know anything about them. "Some games sat on the shelf until I was able to set them up or train people," he said. In two years, Max's charity, "Game Givers," has donated more than $110,000 worth of games to hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses throughout Georgia, as well as in Boston, Michigan, and Madrid, Spain. "I know how proud my grandmother is of the work I am doing," said Max. 

Middle Level State Honoree: Angelica Krubeck
Nominated by Forsyth County 4-H in Cumming

Angelica, a home-schooled sixth-grader, has combined two of her passions – science and helping kids – by providing science kits and conducting fun workshops for at-risk children in shelters, foster care and after-school programs through "Super Science Kids," a nonprofit she founded two years ago. One day Angelica had a conversation with a friend who had once lived in a homeless shelter. "She opened up to me about her life in a shelter and how hard every day was," she said. "I didn't realize some kids went through this. So I decided I wanted to help."

After brainstorming with her family, Angelica met with a local librarian to develop science lessons, presented her ideas to local shelters, and sold some of her toys to pay filing fees for nonprofit status. She then established a website and a Facebook page, designed a logo, solicited donations from companies that make educational materials, and planned fundraisers. Finally, she was ready to begin delivering science kits and organizing learning events at foster organizations, shelters, and after-school programs. Initially, Angelica's goal was to teach science to at-risk kids in her county, then in her state. But last summer, she and her family embarked on a cross-country science tour to conduct science workshops at 15 shelters and deliver 800 science kits to children in need. "Super Science Kids doesn't just teach science, we also empower kids," Angelica said.    

Distinguished Finalists

The program judges also recognized six other Georgia students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Georgia's Distinguished Finalists for 2018:

Tejas Athni, 17, of Macon, Ga., a senior at Stratford Academy, has provided CPR and basic life-saving training to more than 250 Georgians through a program he founded called, "CPR Education NovoToro," and partnered with a foundation to provide train-the-trainer CPR education in India, too. Tejas, whose grandfather died when no one was able to perform CPR, has been recognized for his education initiatives by the American Heart Association.

Sophie Edwards, 14, of Marietta, Ga., a freshman at Marietta High School, has volunteered hundreds of hours toward ending childhood hunger by starting her own nonprofit, increasing awareness through public outreach, and helping to raise a great deal of money to support the work of No Kid Hungry and one of its Atlanta-based partner organizations. Sophie got involved after learning in kindergarten that her best friend didn't have enough to eat.

Meghan Higgins, 17, of Rocky Face, Ga., a senior at Christian Heritage School, led fundraising efforts and provided hands-on support for an initiative that designed and built a sustainable food source for a school for the deaf in Jamaica. Under Meghan's leadership, $35,000 was raised to install the solar-powered aquaponic system, which now provides a community of more than 100 people with fish and fresh produce.

Sydney Horton, 18, of Greensboro, Ga., a senior at Lake Oconee Academy, has raised nearly $25,000 since 2015 to provide enrichment opportunities for gifted students served by her local Boys and Girls Club. Sydney was inspired to launch the scholarship initiative by kids she met while tutoring at the club; her efforts have sent students to out-of-state and international education programs, college tours and more.

Garrett Jimmerson, 18, of Columbus, Ga., a senior at Columbus High School, started the annual "Reason for the Season" Christmas benefit concert at his church, an event that has raised $10,000 to support local families in need during the holidays. Garrett, who has worked directly with recipient families to get to know their needs, has raised enough money from the concert to provide them with back-to-school support as well.

Julia Stahlman, 17, of Atlanta, Ga., a junior at Riverwood International Charter School, founded "Art for Art," a nonprofit organization that supports children living in poverty in Africa by showcasing their artwork in the U.S. and raising money for education programs. Julia also created a student-led initiative to promote safe drinking water and raise awareness about a common contaminant.

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

"These middle level and high school students have not only improved the lives of the people and communities they've served – they also set an important example for their peers," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. "These honorees prove that you're never too young to make a difference."