ANNAPOLIS (February 8, 2012)—Loranika Sharma, 11, of Waldorf, today was named one of Maryland's top two youth volunteers for 2012 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Loranika was nominated by Mattawoman Middle School in Waldorf. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 17th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Loranika, a sixth-grader at Mattawoman Middle School, co-founded an environmental group that has conducted numerous service projects in her community to raise awareness of environmental issues. One cold night three years ago, Loranika was sipping warm milk at a coffee shop when she noticed a napkin that read, No trees were hurt in making this napkin. She hadnt realized that trees were killed to make napkins, and told her mother she wanted to start a group to help save the environment. If we continue like this, nothing will be left for our grandkids, she explained.
Loranika surveyed her elementary school classmates to see if they would be interesting in joining her and her twin sister in spreading the word about environmental issues. With an enthusiastic response, the Go Green Environmental Group was formed. Since then, Loranika and her team have promoted book recycling; urged publishers to print childrens books on recycled paper using organic ink; distributed instructions on how to use a rain barrel to reduce water consumption; encouraged people to go meatless one day a week; taught people how to make plantable greeting cards; and collected 130 bags of clothing for the poor. Loranika and her group are always looking for creative ways to increase public awareness of the planets dwindling resources. Kids cannot leave it to adults who have been responsible for plundering Mother Earth for centuries, she said.
As State Honorees, Loranika, and her co-winner Saanya Ali, 15, of Potomac, will each receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for several days of national recognition events. Ten of them will be named Americas top youth volunteers for 2012 at that time.