Powell, a senior at Gilmore County High School, and Hixenbough, an eighth grade student at Barrackville Middle School, were among the 100 top youth volunteers honored in Washington, D.C. During the ceremony, the students were awarded $1,000 and received engraved silver medallions, in addition to an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.
Powell was recognized helping the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by writing letters challenging every high school in West Virginia to raise money. In the end, more than $8,000 was raised and donated to charities.
Seeing the benefits of this act, her fellow volunteers formed a service organization to help with other charities. “Service Connection” provided Christmas presents for underprivileged children, mentored special education students and helped a family who lost their belongings in a house fire.
Powell believes it is essential for everyone, especially teenagers, to give back through volunteering.
Hixenbough performs as “Happy Heart Clown” and brings cheer to people in hospitals, nursing homes and shelters. He also delivers “love baskets” filled with personal items and small gifts.
His decision to spread cheer came about after he spent time in the hospital recovering from several surgeries. He decided to put his sense of humor to work and bring cheer to others.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created eight years ago by Prudential Financial, Inc. to encourage youth volunteerism and to identify and reward young role models. Since its inception, the program has honored nearly 50,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.