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Kevin Spacey, Olympian Allyson Felix present volunteer awards to two Long Island students
Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Olympic gold medal sprinter Allyson Felix are accustomed to receiving awards, but on Sunday night, they presented them to a group of young volunteers that included two Long Islanders.
In February, Samuel Lam, 18, of Old Westbury, and Cory Nichols, 12, of Oceanside, earned the title of New York State’s top high school- and middle school-level youth volunteers through the 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), recognizes young people for outstanding volunteer service.
Lam and Nichols, along with 100 other youth volunteers from around the country, each received a four-day all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where they were honored Monday at a reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. There, they were each presented with a $1,000 cash prize, an engraved silver medallion, and personal congratulations from Spacey and Felix.
Lam, a senior at Jericho High School, co-founded the not-for-profit “End to Cyber Bullying Organization,” which works to educate both young people and adults about cyberbullying and provide support to those who have been victims of online harassment. Lam was inspired to start the organization after he became the target of cyberbullying.
Samuel has since recruited more than 1,200 volunteers for his campaign, sparked youth initiatives around the world and worked with New York State Sen. Jeffrey Klein on legislation to address cyberbullying, according to a news release.
Nichols, a seventh-grader at Oceanside Middle School, has been donating more than $100 worth of food to a local pantry each month and is committed to continue to do so for an entire year. Nichols came up with his plan, which he calls “C the difference: Cory Cares,” after watching an HBO documentary “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island,” that showed how many Long Island families are struggling.
During the past eight months, Nichols has raised $4,000 to purchase groceries, which he delivers to the pantry each month, stocking the shelves with his own hands.