Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey congratulates David Resnick (center) and Kelsey Hirsch.

Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey congratulates David Resnick (center) and Kelsey Hirsch.

SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //

At the 18th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards held earlier this summer in Washington, D.C., Georgia’s top two youth volunteers of 2013 – David Resnick, 18, of Roswell, and Kelsey Hirsch, 13, of Cumming – were honored for their outstanding efforts in service.

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Along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country, Resnick and Hirsch each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception, held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Resnick, a senior at Centennial High School, has played a leadership role for the past six years in Creating Connected Communities (CCC), the organization behind the annual Amy’s Party, a holiday celebration for more than 750 children from homeless shelters throughout Atlanta. He was inspired to get involved by a childhood memory: At age 10, his sister asked the guests at her bat mitzvah celebration to bring books for homeless kids, and the young man helped deliver them to a local shelter.

“I loved seeing how happy those kids were to receive the gifts,” he said.

Resnick made a similar effort with his own bar mitzvah, asking guests to donate toys that he later donated to CCC. Today, as one of the organization’s teen leaders, he does more than just plan the annual party – he also visits shelters, interacts with local philanthropists and learns all about nonprofit organizations.

Hirsch, an eighth-grader at Piney Grove Middle School, sold more than $15,000 worth of silicone wristbands to help the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) respond to a recent surge in call volume from victims of sexual violence. After hearing about the allegations of sexual abuse at Penn State University, this daughter of two Penn State alumni felt she needed to do something to help survivors of sexual assaults.

“I want to make sure this never happens again,” she explained.

To that end, Hirsch designed a blue silicone wristband and proposed selling “Bands4RAINN” for $3 each to support the organization’s mission. The Network agreed to publicize her effort, and Hirsch began selling the bands through friends and relatives, social media and events sponsored by other advocacy groups, both inside and outside the Penn State community.

The money she raised so far has helped RAINN increase its capacity to handle a 47-percent increase in volume on its telephone and Internet hotlines that occurred since the Sandusky scandal broke.

“We commend these honorees not only for the impact of their service and their spirit of giving but also for inspiring others to consider that they can make a difference, too,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “We congratulate this extraordinary group of youth volunteers.”

More information about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year’s honorees can be found at spirit.prudential.com or nassp.org/spirit.

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