Hilary Swank Presents Awards to Young Animal Advocates

Copyright Zach Harrison Photography 2015
Celebrating a new generation’s passion for compassion, a national award ceremony recently took place in Washington, D.C., with children who have shown their support for various charities (among them organizations which care for dogs and cats in need) getting the chance to step into the spotlight.

Hilary Swank, a two-time Academy Award winner and founder of The Hilaroo Foundation, a non-profit which helps both young people and our pals with paws, presented the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards to youth volunteers in grades 5 – 12. Among the 100 honorees were:

  • Shelby Dunphy-Day, a 12-year-old from Arkansas who has helped to make great strides toward the creation of a better tomorrow for homeless animals by establishing a “Six Leg Fun Run & 5K.” Along with mapping out routes, getting grants and approval from two Texarkana municipal governments, building a website, assembling an event committee and making presentations to both her fellow students and community leaders, the girl with a heart of old also planned a pet contest and promotion for animal adoption for the event.
    Shelby’s interest in helping our four-legged friends started in the first grade when a classroom visit by puppies and kittens from a local animal shelter taught a hard lesson in life to the youngster. “I remember asking why they were in the shelter, and what would happen to them,” Shelby stated. “The answer I received was heartbreaking.”
  • Tracen Mangum, an eighth grade student in Idaho, partnered with his brother to establish a youth volunteer group which provides for both people and pets in need. Wanting to help the animals at the facility where they had found their own canine companion, the siblings have volunteered at the shelter and conducted a pet food drive which gathered over 3,000 pounds of nutritious meals and pet supplies for two are animal welfare organizations as well as pet parents who were facing financial difficulty. Realizing that they were inspiring other young people, they formed the “I, You, We Youth Group” to help families in need.
  • A 12-year-old student in Rhode Island with a passion for crafts, canines and cats, Sarah Coutu creates jewelry, throw pillows and pet toys for her ‘pet project’, “Paws for Life.” By opening an online store on Etsy, holding school raffles, selling her handiwork at community events and asking for donations rather than gifts on her birthday, Sarah has purchased an estimated $1,500 worth of supplies for four no-kill animal shelters. The kind-hearted, creative kid has also organized an after-school club to teach others about the plight of homeless animals and the need to prevent animal abuse.
  • When Pennsylvania student Grace Preston adopted a dog from her local shelter, her concern about the animals left behind prompted her to start “Grace’s Goodies.” ┬áIn the past three years the sixth grade student has raised more than $6,000 to help homeless animals in her area through sales of her homemade pet-themed items. Grace has also placed donation cans around her hometown and requested donations to her local animal shelter in lieu of gifts on her birthday. Thanks to her dogged devotion Grace has been able to provide oxygen masks to her local fire department to save the lives of pets caught in fires, helped to pay for a shelter dog’s surgery, and her donation to her area Humane Society resulted in the purchase a storage shed and much-needed supplies.

Each honoree received $1,000 and a medallion during the 21st presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, which was held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Photo Credit: Zach Harrison Photography; Businesswire

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About Grace Sydney

Grace Sydney is the Assistant Editor of DogTipper.com and CatTipper.com, covering celebrity-related rescue news. She operates the @HollywoodDogs Twitter account sharing information on celebrity fundraising for rescues and shelters.