Delaware's top two youth volunteers of 2018, Maricruz Contreras, 17, of Wilmington, and Jenna Dewey, 13, of Felton, were honored in Washington, D.C., on April 29 for their volunteer service during the 23rd annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Contreras and Jenna — along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country — each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, named Contreras and Jenna Delaware's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.

Contreras, a junior at Delaware Design-Lab High School, plays a leadership and advocacy role in several organizations to support LGBTQ youth and educate the public about the challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Contreras has served as a mentor and leader in their high school’s Pride Club, teaching staff and students about the difficulties faced by LGBTQ students and how to foster a more supportive school environment.

Jenna, an eighth-grader at Postlethwait Middle School, collected nearly 1,500 books and several pieces of furniture to create a new children’s library at a local homeless shelter. Wanting to make a “strong, lasting” impact on her community, Jenna sent an email to her school principal asking if she could conduct a book drive at the school to benefit kids at a family shelter in Dover.

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