MORNING NEWS â€” Leslie Mielke
2 cats, Brothers Braden (left) and Tracen Mangum were recognized nationally for their volunteer work with the Blackfoot Animal Shelter.
BLACKFOOT â€” Braden Mangum,14, an eighth grader at Snake River Junior High, has been named one of Idaho's top two youth volunteers in the 19th annual National Awards Program, sponsored by Prudential Financial.
He will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., from May 3-6.
"Service projects help people and things that are in need," said Braden.
Braden and his brother, Tracen, started as volunteers at the Blackfoot Animal Shelter in June 2013.
The boys wanted a dog; their parents wanted them to learn responsibility.
So what started "as cleaning up dog poop" at the Blackfoot Animal Shelter has blossomed into raising awareness of the needs of the shelter and an opportunity to win scholarships.
Not only did the brothers clean up after the animals, they also groomed and socialized them. The brothers also created a Facebook page "so the public could see that the dogs were friendly and adoptable," said Braden.
The Facebook page is called "Braden & Tracen Project Save a Pet.
Months later, the brothers learned that in 2012, the shelter had to euthanize 800 dogs and cats--but after the launch of their Facebook page, only 35 animals met that fate.
Since then, Braden and Tracen have assisted with an Adopt-a-Pet Day and organized a dog and cat food drive at Ridley's.
They are now directing their efforts toward raising money to build a new and larger shelter to house stray animals.
"Their facility wasn't the best," said Braden. "Now we are fundraising for a new building."
Braden's brother, Tracen, 11, a sixth-grader at Snake River Middle School, was one of Idaho's Distinguished Finalist for 2014.
Cameron Kirk, 17, of Lewiston is the other Idaho youth volunteer winner. Cameron a senior at Lewiston High School, coaches Special Olympics athletes and, as public relations director for his local Special Olympics program. He organized fundraisers that raised more than $64,000 over the past five years so that athletes can travel to and compete in sporting events free of charge.
Braden and Cameron will join the top two honorees from each state of the union and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events.
During the trip, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2014.
Braden is in the mix for this top honor.
Each of the 10 National Honorees will receive an additional $5,000 award, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy and $5,000 from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of his choice.
Braden said he learned about this scholarship through the program called "edudaris" through Pathway to Scholarships.
"I want to thank Prudential Financial for choosing me and our project," said Braden.