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Two Suffolk students are award finalists

Heather McNamara, a senior at East Islip High

Heather McNamara, a senior at East Islip High School, left, and Aditya Sehgal, a junior at Half Hollow Hills High School West in Dix Hills, are two of four Long Island students named distinguished finalists in this year's Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Photo Credit: East Islip School District / Jenn Ievolo

Four Long Island students — two from schools in Suffolk County, and two from schools in Nassau — were among eight distinguished finalists statewide in this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

The Suffolk students recognized for outstanding acts of volunteerism were Heather McNamara, a senior at East Islip High School, and Aditya Sehgal, a junior at Half Hollow Hills High School West in Dix Hills. In Nassau, Sara Blau, a senior at Schechter School of Long Island’s Upper School in Williston Park, and Jake Young, a seventh-grader at Long Beach Middle School, were honored.

McNamara, 17, has raised about $45,000 for charities including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A survivor of pediatric cancer, she also speaks at events for the New York Blood Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. 

Sehgal, 16, advocates for equal education opportunities and organizes school supply donations, and has raised thousands of dollars for low-income schools through his nonprofit Genius in Need.

Blau, 17, founded Game Changers New York, a nonprofit that has collected and donated more than 6,650 pieces of sports equipment for children in need worldwide. She also has collaborated with organizations and local volunteers to host fundraisers and collection events.

Young, 12, volunteers with the Little Saint Nick Foundation’s New York Chapter and dresses in costume monthly to distribute goodies at local hospitals.

The program is sponsored by Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. 

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