Youths from Concord, Charlotte recognized as top national volunteers

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two area North Carolina youths were honored as top volunteers at a national ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Davis Dawson, 17, of Concord, and Samuel Park, 12, of Charlotte, were honored for their outstanding volunteer service during the 20th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Dawson and Samuel, along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country, each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts.

Dawson is a junior at Jay M. Robinson High School. He raised more than $43,000 and led the efforts of over 200 volunteers to build a new house for a single mother and her four children through Habitat for Humanity.

“Five years ago, my dad began working for Habitat for Humanity,” Dawson said. “Seeing his positive attitude toward Habitat and his job of serving others on a daily basis inspired me."

Dawson organized funds and planned his project. He and his crew worked every Saturday starting in late August 2014 and completed it in time to welcome the family home for the holidays.

Samuel is a seventh-grader at Harris Road Middle School, and operates a video transfer service to raise funds for orphans in Kenya and Uganda. He delivers e-book “libraries” -- Kindles loaded with up to 1,200 books -- to orphanages, schools, and youth centers in those countries and South Africa. He also sends them to public schools and youth centers in the United States.

He began volunteering when he was in the first grade through his school and church. A few years ago he met the founder of a ministry that supports orphanages in Kenya and Uganda and learned how desperate the need is there. He was also shocked to know children do not have ready access to books.

He shipped books to Kenya, but most of them were lost or stolen. He then realized he could send books through an e-reader anywhere around the globe.

“Together we can give the gift of literacy to millions of youth around the world,” Samuel said.

For more information about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year’s honorees, click here.