NEWARK, N.J., Feb. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Nijel Murray, 17, of Las Vegas and Trinity Washington, 11, of North Las Vegas today were named Nevada’s top youth volunteers of 2021 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, America’s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer service.
As State Honorees, Nijel and Trinity will each receive a $2,500 scholarship, a silver medallion and an invitation to the program’s virtual national recognition celebration in April, where 10 of the 102 State Honorees will be named America’s top youth volunteers of the year. Those 10 National Honorees will earn an additional $5,000 scholarship, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their nominating organization and a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, conducted annually by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honors students in grades 5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service.
“We created the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards 26 years ago to highlight and support the work of young people taking on the challenges of a changing world – a mission that rings truer than ever given the events of last year,” said Charles Lowrey, Prudential’s chairman and CEO. “We are proud to celebrate the vision and determination of Spirit of Community’s Class of 2021, and all the ways they’re making their communities safer, healthier and more equitable places to live.”
These are Nevada’s top youth volunteers of 2021:
High School State Honoree: Nijel Murray
Nominated by Nevada State High School
Nijel, a senior at Nevada State High School, founded a nonprofit organization that has provided new clothing and other items to more than a thousand foster children over the past three years to ease the trauma of being separated from their families, and to restore in them a measure of hope and dignity. Nijel was appalled when his new foster brother arrived at his home with only a garbage bag full of dirty and worn clothing. “I thought he must have felt worthless receiving clothes carelessly thrown into a garbage bag with no thought about him,” he said.
After learning how many foster children there are in the U.S. and in Clark County, Nevada, Nijel launched a nonprofit organization on his 14th birthday called “Klothes 4 Kids,” and asked his family to help him stuff duffel bags with new clothes, toiletries, books and toys for kids in foster care. Soon, friends began donating to his cause and volunteers offered to help. Nijel organized a community clothing drive for his 15th birthday, and has since received support from the Andre Agassi Foundation and an agency serving homeless teens. The contents of each duffel bag distributed by Nijel’s organization are tailored to the individual sizes and interests of the recipient. “We do not want the children to just wear the clothes,” he said. “We want them to enjoy them.” To that end, Klothes 4 Kids also has hosted a pop-up shop where teenagers in foster care could pick out whatever brand-new clothing they wanted.
Middle Level State Honoree: Trinity Washington
Nominated by Doral Academy
Trinity, a sixth-grader at Doral Academy, volunteered to help coach three teams of cheerleaders at a local community center, and distributed food, clothing, hygiene items and pandemic-supply kits to people experiencing homelessness on a monthly basis. Trinity loves cheerleading, but instead of participating in her cheer teams last summer, she felt her time was better spent sharing her skills and passion with other girls. So she volunteered to be a junior coach. At the beginning of the season, she helped the head coach plan the year’s schedule, design choreography and conduct tryouts. Once team members were selected, Trinity taught them new cheer and dance routines and assisted with practice sessions. “I enjoy teaching others,” she said.
Trinity also decided to help the homeless in her community after seeing some people on the side of the road and worrying about how they were faring during the COVID-19 pandemic. She gave her parents money to buy masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and other items, and then packaged the items into kits for distribution to the homeless. In addition, Trinity began handing out other supplies to the homeless every month, including food, clothing and hygiene kits. “I realized it’s important not to just sit around,” said Trinity, because “helping people in need makes a big difference.”
State Honorees in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Class of 2021 – the top middle level and high school volunteer from all 50 states and the District of Columbia – were selected for service initiatives completed, at least in part, between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020. Selection was based on criteria including impact, effort, initiative and the personal growth demonstrated over the course of the project. Several Distinguished Finalists and runners-up were also selected in each state, and all qualifying applicants received President’s Volunteer Service Awards.
“It speaks volumes about the character of today’s secondary school students that the Spirit of Community program heard from more than 21,000 applicants this fall – most of them stories of young volunteers overcoming the hardships of a global pandemic to support those in need,” said Ronn Nozoe, Chief Executive Officer, NASSP. “While we’re especially proud to celebrate this year’s 102 State Honorees, NASSP applauds every student who’s found a way to volunteer this past year. You inspire your peers and adults alike to remember that, even in times of crisis, we all have something to give.”
To read the names and stories of all of this year’s State Honorees, visit http://spirit.prudential.com.