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Way to Go!: Christopher J. Yao of Jericho Middle School

Christopher J. Yao's volunteer efforts seem boundless.

Yao, a Jericho Middle School eighth-grader, has raised $2,000 since 2008 through a series of read-a-thons and bake sales to benefit Smile Train, a nonprofit organization that provides cleft lip and cleft palate surgery to children in need around the world.

He also is founder of Kids Change the World, a nonprofit he created in 2006 to spread the word online about various youth-run nonprofit activities.

Based on his efforts, Yao was recently named a distinguished finalist in the 2010 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

"I believe that service to society is the best way to build teamwork," said Yao, 13, the youngest of New York's eight finalists. "Not only are you helping people, but for every person you help, there is one more person to help us change the world. This multiplies your impact by trillions of times."

Yao's other community service efforts include initiating Americans Thank, a program that has mailed about 1,000 thank-you cards to U.S. troops serving overseas since 2008.

Yao qualified last year for the President's Volunteer Service Award from the Council on Service and Civic Participation for more than 500 hours of community service.

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