LIVINGSTON, NJ — Avika Bansal, a sophomore at Livingston High School, has been devoting time to community service for the past eight years. She was recently awarded with the 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Award for New Jersey and was one of only six New Jersey students to be named finalist for the 2017 award.

At the Livingston Township Council meeting on Monday night, Livingston Mayor Shawn Klein included a brief summary of Bansal’s more than 1,000 hours of community service. According to Klein, Bansal has organized drives that have collected more than 5,000 pairs of shoes and 1,000 pounds of food and toiletries for those in need.

She has been organizing drives and working on other community service efforts since 2009, when she was eight years old.

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“Community service is extremely humbling,” she said. “Collecting all of these donations makes me feel really happy and proud that I’m able to help so many people in the community.”

Bansal also explained that her work is not finished, stating that she has brought her efforts to the “Togetherhood” initiative at the West Essex YMCA to establish a bi-annual drive to benefit people in the community.

Klein said the council was eager to recognize Bansal’s efforts and all the people she has helped. The township celebrated her accomplishment on Monday by presenting her with a plaque stating that the township is “proud to have her among us.”