SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Union Catholic senior and Union resident Tori Hayes recently received a great honor when she was chosen for 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 program.

Hayes was also chosen as Union Catholic’s Prudential Spirit of Community Award recipient this past fall. That award recognizes students who make meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service.

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The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by the Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), recognizes high school students across the country for outstanding volunteer service.

“The recipients of these awards demonstrate that young people across America are making remarkable contributions to the health and vitality of their communities,’’ said John Strangfeld, Chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. “By recognizing these students and placing a spotlight on their volunteer activities, we hope to motivate others to consider how they can also contribute to their community.’’ 

Hayes has been extremely active in and out of school during her years at Union Catholic. She has traveled to Haiti 14 times over the past six years to volunteer at her aunt’s orphanage, is President of UC’s Project Haiti, is a member of the French Club, a member of the Big Brother/Big Sister Club, serves as school ambassador, is on the Student Council, and she competes on the tennis team, swim team, and lacrosse team.

Hayes is grateful and honored to receive a prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award.

“I don’t do things for the awards, but it’s a very rewarding feeling and it’s nice to be recognized for my volunteer work,’’ said Hayes. 

Hayes said giving back to the community is something that runs in her family and makes her feel good.

''My parents have always given so much and they always say to give back anyway you can, and they showed me how to do that,’’ said Hayes. “So helping out and volunteering has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing since I was a little, especially with my aunt’s orphanage in Haiti. It feels good to give back and help people. It’s something that just comes from the kindness of my heart.’’