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TIS Student Lando Aldridge wins the Prudential Spirit of Community Award

 Lando Aldridge

Lando Aldridge, 9, of Alabaster was named one of Alabama's top youth volunteers of 2021 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, America's largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer service.

As State Honorees,  Lando will receive a $2,500 scholarship, a silver medallion, and an invitation to the program's virtual national recognition celebration in April, where 10 of the 102 State Honorees will be named America's top youth volunteers of the year. Those 10 National Honorees will earn an additional $5,000 scholarship, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their nominating organization, and a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, conducted annually by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honors students in grades 5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service.

"We created the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards 26 years ago to highlight and support the work of young people taking on the challenges of a changing world - a mission that rings truer than ever given the events of last year," said Charles Lowrey, Prudential's chairman, and CEO. "We are proud to celebrate the vision and determination of Spirit of Community's Class of 2021, and all the ways they're making their communities safer, healthier, and more equitable places to live."

Middle Level State Honoree: Lando Aldridge

Nominated by Thompson Intermediate School


Lando, a fifth-grader at Thompson Intermediate School, raised more than $4,500 by sewing and selling fleece hats to raise money in support of homeless cats and other animals at two shelters. "I love all animals, but especially cats," explained Lando. While visiting his aunt in Texas, he asked why she had so many kittens and was told that they were foster cats. "I thought how sad it was that so many kitties didn't have homes," said Lando, "and wondered who paid for all their food and trips to the vet." Since he was already sewing presents for the following Christmas, Lando decided to sew hats as well, and sell them "to help the kitties."

With assistance from his mother, Lando bought lots of fleece and created a website and Facebook page about his "Hats for Cats" project. "After that, I just sewed and sewed," he said. As he finished his hats, Lando sold them at his school and church, through his website, and at animal-adoption events. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Lando began sewing face masks for local healthcare workers and first responders and sold some to generate even more money for animals, bringing the total amount he has raised for his cause to more than $4,500.

State Honorees in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Class of 2021- the top middle level and high school volunteer from all 50 states and the District of Columbia - were selected for service initiatives completed, at least in part, between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020. Selection was based on criteria including impact, effort, initiative, and the personal growth demonstrated over the course of the project. Several Distinguished Finalists and runners-up were also selected in each state, and all qualifying applicants received President's Volunteer Service Awards.

"It speaks volumes about the character of today's secondary school students that the Spirit of Community program heard from more than 21,000 applicants this fall- most of them stories of young volunteers overcoming the hardships of a global pandemic to support those in need," said Ronn Nozoe, Chief Executive Officer, NASSP. "While we're especially proud to celebrate this year's 102 State Honorees, NASSP applauds every student who's found a way to volunteer this past year. You inspire your peers and adults alike to remember that, even in times of crisis, we all have something to give."