RANDOLPH, NJ- Randolph Middle School student Tyler Zepp, an eighth grader and animal lover, has been honored for his exemplary volunteer service and recognized by the White House with a President's Volunteer Service Award.

The award, which recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country, was granted by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. Randolph Middle School nominated Tyler this past fall in recognition of his volunteer work with the Randolph Regional Animal Shelter and the P.A.W.S. Club or Pet Awareness with Smiles, which benefits homeless animals.

Tyler said he has volunteered at the animal shelter since he was six years old when he helped take care of Betty, a shih tzu recovering from back surgery. Today, when he volunteers at the shelter, he takes care of the cats, keeps dogs calm and gives tours. "I love animals," he said. "I also like to help my community."

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Tyler helps train the student volunteers who help out at the shelter. "I love volunteering at the Randolph Regional Animal Shelter because of the friendly environment and how I am helping animals get their forever home," he said.

When he is not helping out at the shelter, Tyler helps set up the Randolph Community Fair and organizes fundraisers to benefit the Randolph Regional Animal Shelter and the Eleventh Hour Rescue through the middle school P.A.W.S. club. Tyler helped start the club as a lunch club. The club now meets after school and a has waiting list because it has become so popular.

"Tyler is an inspiration to all of us at RMS," said Luann Mizzoni, an RMS counselor and advisor to the P.A.W.S. club. "He is the epitome of selflessness in his volunteer work at the Randolph Regional Animal Shelter. Many of the shelter animals have had very difficult lives, and Tyler makes their world a little bit better. He truly volunteers from the heart which makes his award so deserving."

RMS Principal Dr. Dennis Copeland congratulated Tyler on his award and said he was proud of Tyler for this great achievement. "Tyler is to be commended for his service to the Randolph community. His volunteer efforts have impacted residents and those seeking assistance and support from the Randolph Animal Shelter," Dr. Copeland said. "Tyler has captured and embraced the RMS motto of 'a better school, a better world.'"

Tyler acknowledges that most kids his age enjoy playing video games, but he prefers to volunteer to help animals.

The dedicated young man said he hopes to study criminal law and one day become a Randolph Police Officer.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, recognizes middle level and high school students across America for outstanding volunteer service.

RMS math teacher Linda Klauber spoke to Dr. Copeland about the award and suggested that he RMS nominate students for this award. Mrs. Klauber's husband Kevin Haines works at Prudential.

"Across the United States, young volunteers are doing remarkable things to contribute to the well-being of the people and communities around them," said Prudential CEO Charles Lowery. "Prudential is honored to celebrate the contributions of these students, and we hope their stories inspire others to volunteer, too."

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. 

Created in 1995 by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the program honors middle level and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national level. Thus far, it has recognized more than 125,000 young people who’ve made a difference – and inspired countless others to consider how they might contribute to their communities.

 Caption: Randolph Middle School Principal Dr. Dennis Copeland congratulates Tyler Zepp on his award.