Published 3:00 am Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ciara Laird is a statewide finalist for The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. She earned a $1,000 award and a trip to Washington, D.C

Ciara Laird is a statewide finalist for The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. She earned a $1,000 award and a trip to Washington, D.C

Ciara Laird, a 10-year-old student at New Life Christian Academy in Troy, has been named one of two state finalists in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, which honors young people, nationwide, for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

One hundred and two student volunteers, two from each state and the District of Columbia, are state honorees. Each state honoree will earn a $1,000 award, a silver medallion and a trip to the nation’s capital in May.

Ciara, who was nominated by New Life Christian Academy, said she will save the $1,000 award she received for college.

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“I’m excited to be chosen for this award and I’m looking forward to going to Washington,” Ciara said. “My mother is going with me and we’ll have fun and I’ll get to see a lot of famous and important places.”

Ciara has always like to help other people and, when she saw a hungry person eating food out of a restaurant dumpster, she decided to begin a food drive for people who don’t have food to eat.

“I put a box in my classroom to collect food for the Salvation Army,” she said. “Now, we have food drives at the school and everybody can bring food to feed hungry people in our community.”

Ciara is president of the honor society at New Life Christian Academy. Her mission is to help other students understand that hunger is an issue in the local community and to encourage them to participate in efforts to feed the hungry.

Ciara has filled shoeboxes with Christmas gifts for children in need and made care packages for families in the local area who were storm victims.

The fifth-grader has also volunteered at a Troy nursing home and assisted with a community garden at an after school center.

Joining Ciara as Alabama’s top two youth volunteer recipients for the 2016 Prudential Spirit of Community awards is Madison Haney, 17 who is a senior at Florence High School.

Four Alabama students were recognized a “Distinguished Finalists,” – Sydney Culverhouse, 14, Opp High School; Amerie Gramelspacher, 18, Thomasville High School; Israel Mason, 13, John Herbert Phillips Academy, Birmingham; and Caitlyn McTier, 16, Sylacauga High School.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United State’s largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service.

While in Washington D.C., the 102 state honorees will tour the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world and attend the awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. They will also visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.