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‘Quiet helper’ wins presidential award

David Baker, 14, of Pleasant Home School, has been honored for his exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.

The award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, was presented by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program on behalf of President Barack Obama. Baker participated in the “Spirit of Community” program this year as a representative of Covington County 4-H.

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Baker earned his award through a multitude of service projects including using coupons to purchase items of donation for community establishments such as Save-A-Life and the Andalusia Animal Shelter. His efforts also helped put together several soldier care packages for troops in Afghanistan.

In his application, Baker said, “My favorite community service was this last year when I learned about a needy family with two young boys that were in need of simple hygiene items and had no hopes of Santa visiting them. The family touched my heart because the only thing they wanted for Christmas (were) things to take and bath(e) with and brush their teeth. I realized how fortunate I was and was able to donate 68 [items] to them.”

Baker has been a member of the Covington County 4-H program for six years where he was introduced into the importance of community service.

Tanya Bales, Covington County 4-H extension agent, said, “David is a quiet helper within our community. He not only collects items for donation but he has also participated in trash cleanups, efforts to assist Ronald McDonald House Charities, and 4-H fundraisers. Even an award of this magnitude cannot compare to the change he has made in this community, one kind act at a time. I am proud to call him a member of the Covington County 4-H.”

Sponsored by Prudential Financial, in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program recognizes young people across America for outstanding community service activities. More than 370,000 young people across America have been considered for these awards since the program began in 1995.

“The recipients of these awards vividly demonstrate that young people across America are making remarkable contributions to the health and vitality of their communities,” said John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. “In recognizing these students and placing a spotlight on their volunteer service activities, we hope to motivate others to consider how they can also contribute to their community.”

“Demonstrating civic responsibility through community volunteerism is an important part of life,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “These Honorees practice a lesson we hope all young people, as well as adults, will emulate.”

Program applications were distributed last September through all public and private middle level and high schools, Girl Scout Councils, County 4-H Organizations, American Red Cross Chapters, YMCAs, and affiliates of Hands On Network. After Local Honorees were named, state-level judges selected State Honorees, Distinguished Finalists and Certificate of Excellence recipients. Volunteer activities were judged on criteria such as personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.