THS senior picks up Prudential award
A Tonganoxie teenager who organized a program to send care packages to U.S. troops in Iraq was honored as one of the top two youth volunteers in the state of Kansas.
James Bailey, a Tonganoxie High School senior, received the Prudential Financial "Spirit of Community Award" during Thursday's meeting of the Leavenworth County Commission.
"This award recognizes James as a top volunteer in the entire state of Kansas -- not for his academic or athletic achievements, but for service to his community," said Eddie Batts, an agent with Prudential.
Bailey's project began, he said, after reading a poem about the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Bailey recruited fellow members of the Leavenworth County 4-H Club as well as VFW and American Legion representatives to seek donations from local schools and businesses in Leavenworth and Douglas County.
"To me it means a lot that the community donated so much," Bailey said. "It wouldn't have been possible without community support from Lawrence, Basehor, Lansing, Leavenworth and Tonga-noxie."
Bailey and volunteers gathered all of the donated materials, including hard candies, cleaning items, magazines, decks of cards and "really anything to remind (the soldiers) of home" in the living room of his house in Jarbalo.
During a nightlong session at a Tonganoxie laundromat, the volunteers filled pillowcases with donated goods and, with the help of the Army National Guard and the United Service Organizations, mailed the care packages to Iraq.
Prudential presented Bailey with a commemorative medal, $1,000, and a trip to Washington, D.C., this May, where he will join other honorees in a four-day recognition event and will be considered for one of 10 national awards.
The company has recognized high school and middle school students in each state as leaders in community service projects since 1995.