2 youths are lauded for charitable efforts


POSTED: Saturday, February 28, 2009

Melissa Monette of Mililani High School and Kristyn Wong of Kaimuki Middle School have been chosen Hawaii's top two youth volunteers for 2009 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.





        » For more information, visit spirit.prudential.com or www.principals.org/prudential.



The awards are part of a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The program is in its 14th year and is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expenses-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., for several days of recognition events.

A group of 10, selected from among the top two honorees of each of the other states and the District of Columbia, will be chosen as finalists.

Monette, 16, founded a nonprofit organization that has provided more than 13,000 pounds of fresh produce and canned goods to low-income senior citizens and homeless people the past two years. She realized how great the need was when her grandmother was denied assistance from a food pantry because she was not homeless.

Wong, 13, was named the Junior Optimist Club's Optimist of the Year in 2008 for her outstanding community service.

She entertained nursing home residents, worked at Thanksgiving dinners for seriously ill children and their families, collected food for the Hawaii Foodbank, cleaned up a local park and helped raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters, among other projects. She also recruited other students to join the club.

Distinguished Finalists included Cecilia Chung, a senior at La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls; and Nika Kashyap, a ninth-grader at Mid-Pacific Institute. Chung volunteered to teach English at an elementary school in Thailand for two months last summer; and Kashyap persuaded the state Legislature to pass a resolution declaring June 8 “;World Ocean Day”; in Hawaii.