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Meet the State Honorees: Supporting Kids and Families

Friday, April 13, 2018

These honorees are on a mission to help children and families, at home and around the world.

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Chaina Nafziger lived in an orphanage in Haiti from the time she was 6 years old until she was adopted by a family in Ohio. So when a man came to her church to talk about Haiti, she remembered her life there and the children she’d known.

Chaina was determined to help. So she teamed up with a friend to host a bake sale during a church conference, recruiting volunteer bakers and teaming up with their moms to plan the logistics. Over the course of two days, they raised $1,400 for two charities – one that provides a home and education to orphans in Haiti, and another that helps teenagers who have aged out of the orphanage where Chaina lived.

“Most people think that helping people in poor countries is only for adults, but they’re wrong,” said Chaina, a sixth-grader at Archbold Middle School in Ohio. “Children can help, too.”

Zachary Wolfson, a senior at Franklin High School in Tennessee, runs an student-powered organization called “Threads of Care” that collects clothing and shoes for homeless teens and raises awareness of teen homelessness.

Vani Sharma, a sixth-grader at Sand Creek Intermediate School in Indiana, has been visiting the Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis regularly for several years to prepare meals and entertain the families of hospitalized children.

Kadynce Mullins, a fifth-grader at Hayward Elementary School in Nebraska, raised $1,500 for Omaha Children’s Hospital by converting her wagon into a lollipop stand, and contributed thousands of volunteer hours to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.

Ashley Geesey, an eighth-grader at Elizabethtown Area Middle School in Pennsylvania, raises money for sick children and other causes by working with her sister and two friends to sell jewelry through local businesses and their Instagram account.

Grace Kennedy, an eighth-grader at St. Anthony School Kailua in Hawaii, has raised thousands of dollars to benefit sick and abused children as a board member of a student philanthropy, recently leading a fundraiser concert benefiting Ronald McDonald House Hawaii.

Makenna Marchbanks, a junior at Blanchard High School in Oklahoma, has collected more than 5,000 pairs of new and gently-used shoes to boost the self-esteem of kids whose families can’t afford new footwear.

Autumn Bright, a seventh-grader at Corte Madera Elementary School in California, raised more than $23,000 last year to build an orphanage for 12 abandoned children in India, and to dig a freshwater well and buy school supplies for the kids.

Jessica Perry, a seventh-grader at Nikiski Middle/High School in Alaska, is a dedicated volunteer with her local Boys & Girls Club, providing hands-on support on activities ranging from housekeeping to helping with art projects.

Jameshia Attaway, an eighth-grader at St. Joseph High School in Mississippi, supplies five schools in her area with toiletries and feminine hygiene products that she collects for students who need them during the school day.

Jenna Dewey, an eighth-grader at Postlethwait Middle School in Delaware, collected nearly 1,500 books and several pieces of furniture to create a new children’s library at a local homeless shelter.

We’ll be profiling this year’s State Honorees twice a week, now through the #PruSpirit2018 national recognition events in Washington, D.C. You can find the stories of all this year’s state-level honorees at https://spirit.prudential.com/honorees/state.