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Granite Bay student honored for volunteer work

By: Staff Report
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Two California students, Amy Holiday, 17, of Granite Bay and Cristina Bequer, 12, of Blythe were honored in the nation’s capital May 4 for their volunteer work during the presentation of the 2008 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The two girls, along with 100 other youth volunteers from across the country, received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, at the 13th annual award ceremony and gala dinner reception, held at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Holiday and Bequer were named the top high school and middle level youth volunteers in California last February. In addition to their cash awards, they received engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with their parents to Washington, D.C., for a week of recognition events. Conducted in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created by Prudential Financial Inc. to encourage youth volunteerism and to identify and reward young role models. The program has honored more than 80,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level. “Amy and Cristina are inspiring examples of young Americans who care deeply about the needs of others who have taken the initiative to help meet those needs,” said Prudential Chairman Arthur F. Ryan in a news release. “By honoring them, we hope not only to give them the recognition they so richly deserve, but also to inspire others to follow their example.” Holiday, a senior at Granite Bay High School, organized book drives at five local schools and collected more than 10,000 books to create a lending library at a home for abused and neglected children. “I know how comforting books are,” Holiday said. “To provide a library of books to children who had been neglected their whole lives seemed like a remedy for that isolation and loneliness.” After speaking with the principal of the shelter’s school, Holiday conducted a two-month book collection campaign. She delivered speeches at school assemblies, distributed flyers and donation boxes to each school, and picked up donated books twice a week. With hundreds of boxes in her garage, Holiday spent weeks sorting the books, placing labels in each one, cataloguing them into a database, and finally placing them on newly-built shelves. She also obtained donations of library furniture and supplies from local businesses. The new library, Holiday said, “will benefit every one of the 1,800 kids who are admitted (to the home) yearly, and for most of those young people, it will be their first exposure to reading.”