Teen one of nation’s top young volunteers

Sophia DeMarco will head down to Washington D.C. as a state winner of the Prudential Spirit of Service Award

Enumclaw teenager Sophia DeMarco will land in Washington, D.C., this spring, where she will be honored as a state winner of the Prudential Spirit of Service Award.

Sophia, 14, is an eighth-grader at Enumclaw Middle School.

The Spirit of Service Award annually recognizes the efforts of 102 youth volunteers from across the nation – two from each state (one high school, one middle school), plus the District of Columbia. The program, now in its 23rd year, is sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Each of the 102 state honorees will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in late April to Washington, D.C., for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2018.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is the nation’s largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service.

Sophia has been a leader in her school and community in promoting environmental protection and other important causes.

“I have always tried to create positive change in my school, neighborhood and community,” she said. So, when she entered EHS, she sought a position on the school’s Associated Student Body council. One of her principal interests on the council has been to work on projects to protect the environment and to teach others how they can support that mission.

She and her fellow council members started small, by staffing a table at lunchtime to show students the difference between items that can be recycled, composted and thrown away. They then ran a campaign to encourage students to use water bottle filling stations with reusable bottles, and planted a sustainable garden at their school. Their recycling and water conservation efforts have reduced the school’s overall waste by 70 percent and saved more than 50,000 plastic bottles from being deposited in landfills, Sophia reported.

To broaden their impact, ASB members have spoken about environmental topics in classrooms and a senior center, and made videos for their entire school. In addition, Sophia has volunteered at a local food bank, handed out backpacks filled with food for hungry kids, and helped raise money to support women and children in Africa.

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