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Prudential to Honor Alaska's Top Student Volunteer Leaders

Saturday, March 20, Prudential Jack White Vista Real Estate will host a student recognition dinner at the Salvation Army McKinnell House at 1712 A Street in Anchorage from 5:00-6:30 p.m. to honor 30 students from Alaskan schools for their outstanding volunteer service and community leadership.

Alaska's top high school volunteer, Esther Smith, will speak about the importance of student volunteerism and will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where she will join the top honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for several days of national recognition events.

Ten of them will be named America's top youth volunteers for 2010 at that time. Esther, a senior at Chugiak High School, has spent the past four summers working in foreign countries to aid impoverished children by teaching English, assisting with feeding programs, taking care of orphans, and helping with development projects.

"My strongest desire has always been to help destitute children in the global community," said Esther.

In 2006, she signed on with Teen Missions International to go to India, where she provided aid to orphans in a tsunami-devastated region along the Bay of Bengal. The following year, Esther traveled to Brazil to work among native tribes along the Amazon. During the past two summers, Esther has volunteered in remote villages in northern Zambia. She taught English to AIDS orphans, played with the children, distributed food, helped build water cisterns, and gave away more than 500 pairs of shoes and socks from a collection drive she had conducted back in Alaska. She also helped make a documentary film about six rural villages to raise awareness of the desperate conditions there.

"I held hands that had never known love," said Esther, who was so touched by her experiences that she plans to study humanitarian law and return to Africa one day as a human rights advocate.

Also being recognized during the dinner will be 29 Alaska middle and high school students who recently completed the Prudential Youth Leadership Institute during Spring Break and who will be graduating from Prudential's national community leadership program in volunteer service.

This recognition dinner is sponsored by Prudential Jack White Vista Real Estate, Prudential Financial, Points of Light & Hands On Network in partnership with Salvation Army of Alaska, Tastee Freez at Jewel Lake, Red Cross of Alaska, UAA TRIO Programs and community schools, businesses, and civic groups

For more information on Prudential's student volunteer program go to www.spirit.prudential.com

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