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Students honored for service

Taylor Eisenman, of the Record staff

Senior Katie Brenner and junior Robert Malcolm have been selected to represent Park City High School for Prudential Spirit of Community Awards at the state level. Since 1995, the awards have recognized more than 75,000 fifth- to twelfth-grade students who have demonstrated exemplary community service.

Brenner and Malcolm are considered "local honorees," and each receives a Certificate of Achievement. Brenner has been nominated as a local honoree by the high school for the past three years, while Malcolm went on to become a state runner up last year.

"These students are just proof positive that kids can make a difference," scholarship advisor Dana Ardovino said. "They have the spirit of service."

In order to enter the competition, students had to apply online by Oct. 31. In the application, they had to write essays about how their community service project inspires and impacts themselves and the community, what kind of effort is involved, and how they have personally grown.

For Brenner, volunteering at the People’s Health Clinic, is a part of her lifelong dream. "Since as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a doctor," she said. At the clinic, Brenner is a receptionist, takes vitals and does Spanish translations as needed.

She said the clinic really speaks to her because she has always felt connected to the immigrant community. "We give them the best care that we can, and when they say thank you, you can see that they really mean it."

"I admire all the things immigrants go through to be in America," she said. "A lot of the families come here for their children, so by helping to teach their parents, you can then influence their children."

Her career goal is to work in the field of pediatrics. "I am interested in being a pediatrician because children are so impressionable, and I would like to be able to impact them and serve them," she said.

Brenner volunteers at the clinic once a week for about two-and-a-half to four hours. She also helps out with English Language Learners Homework Club, once a week, and is part of the Key Club initiative "High Five for Health," which educates children on the importance of good health and nutrition.

"I’ll volunteer till I can volunteer no more," she said. Brenner plans to continue similar volunteering when she goes to college.

When Malcolm goes away to school, he hopes his ninth-grade sister will be able to take over Community Donations, Inc., the nonprofit he started in seventh grade. "We’ve been helping a lot of people throughout the years; it shouldn’t stop just because I’m gone," he said.

The idea for the organization emerged when he realized how much extra winter clothing his family had in their closets. He wanted to come up with an easy and convenient way for people to donate unwanted winter clothing. His dad, a businessman, suggested creating a nonprofit so that people could receive tax benefits from their donations.

"We’re getting a lot more volumes of stuff than when we first started," he said. "It seems like every time we go to check on a box, it’s full." Conscience Fitness, a gym in Kimball Junction, has had one of Malcolm’s clothing donation boxes since his organization began.

"Gyms and schools are really the perfect places for boxes because people go there almost every day," he said. Community Donations, Inc. currently has three box locations: Conscience Fitness, Park City High School and Park City Academy.

With the amount of donations Conscience Fitness is bringing in, he said, he hasn’t needed to put out any more boxes. But, he said he always keeps one or two boxes on hand at home in case a new opportunity arises.

"It’s not that much work and you get a good return," he said. "You put the boxes out, and they just fill themselves up. It’s really a very efficient way of helping people."

Malcolm incorporated food donations three years ago when he started the benefit fencing tournament, "Will Fence for Food," which collects food and clothing donations instead of an entrance fee. "Most of the food donations we get come from the tournament," he said.

All in all, Malcolm has contributed about 4,000 food and clothing items to organizations such as the Christian Center and the Peace House in Park City and Road Home in Salt Lake City. He chose the Road Home because it’s not religiously affiliated, and so he knows the items go to anybody who needs them.

According to Ardovino, the high school announced Brenner and Malcolm’s nominations on Tues, Nov. 20. Feb. 12, 2008, judges will name the top middle and high school volunteers of every state.

Winners at the state level are given $1,000, engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip in May with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., to compete at the national level.

There the country’s top 10 youth volunteers for the Prudential Spirit Awards will be announced. They receive an additional $5,000, engraved gold medallions, crystal trophies for their schools or organizations, and $5,000 in grants for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice.

"These kids are an inspiration to me and to their fellow students," Ardovino said. She has many more scholarship opportunities and seminars throughout the year to help Park City School District’s students expand their educational opportunities.


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