Charlottesville, Va., Feb. 07, 2017 – Lucia Hoerr ’18, founder of local nonprofit Backpack Buddies, was named one of two top youth volunteers in the Commonwealth of Virginia as part of the 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Now in its twenty-second year, the awards are a nationwide program honoring students in grades five through twelve for exceptional volunteer service. Also receiving a Virginia award was Shishir Sriramoju, a Stone Hill Middle School student in Ashburn, Va. 

Hoerr began her Backpack Buddies program while a middle school student at the School, and for seven years has spent her summers soliciting and accepting school supply donations for underprivileged students. She worked with the local Boys & Girls Club to determine students who might need a new backpack full of supplies for the start of the school year, and arranges a “celebration” of friends, teachers, and other volunteers each summer to fill the backpacks and deliver them. Almost 1,500 students have benefitted from Hoerr’s efforts, and the program has grown into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of which Hoerr herself serves as the CEO.

As one of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award winners, Hoerr now receives a $1,000 prize, an engraved medallion, and a trip to Washington, D.C. in early May to join other top honorees from each state and the District of Columbia. The teens will enjoy four days of national recognition events, and 10 will be selected American’s top youth volunteers of the year. 

“Prudential is honored to recognize these young volunteers for their exemplary service,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld in a press release. “We hope that their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can volunteer their time and talents to improve their communities.”