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Schools

250 Hours And Counting

Two Manhasset brothers, Kent and Grant Schietinger, are the proud recipients of President Obama’s Gold Volunteer Service Award for devoting 250 or more hours, individually, to service in 2012. The boys are 11th - grade students at St. Anthony’s High School. The award, consisting of a gold pin, a certificate and a letter from the president, was presented to them last month.

The award is a presidential honor that recognizes the valuable contributions of volunteers nationwide who are answering the call by the chief executive and Congress to serve others. This prestigious national honor was established in 2003 under the administration of President George W. Bush and is issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. It recognizes a sustained commitment to volunteer service.

Kent and Grant have been involved in volunteer services for much of their lives. In 2007, along with their older brother who is now a freshman at the University of Notre Dame, they founded the youth group, Manhasset Students for Peace Through Understanding (MSPTU) under the auspices of People to People International. That group has sponsored various service projects on a local, national and international level. Among its most visible activities is an annual book drive which has collected and distributed more than 20,000 books to underprivileged children and adults in New York City and Long Island. The group also sponsors collections throughout the year to benefit an “adopted” soup kitchen in New York City, which the students visit periodically to perform service.

Internationally, the boys have been involved since 2011 in raising $20,000 to build a school in Uganda. Called “The Hopeful School,” and run through Fields of Growth International, it will provide a permanent facility to educate 150 children and replace the mud, cardboard and paper school that has been in existence. After hundreds of letters, raffles, grant applications, candy sales and personal appeals to large donors, construction of the school is well underway and the monetary goal is close to being reached. The next phase to which the boys have committed themselves involves securing sponsorships for supplies and furnishings.

Those are only some, albeit the largest, of their service activities. They are also involved with mentoring African students studying in the United States and creation of a not-for-profit corporation devoted to students and volunteer professionals, tutoring other students who cannot afford traditional tutoring for standardized testing and college admissions. The hours recognized by the Presidential award are in addition to those logged through St. Anthony’s High School to meet their service requirements for National Honor Society, into which they were inducted last fall.

In his letter to Kent and Grant, President Obama writes, “In my Inaugural Address, I stated that we need a new era of responsibility – a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world. These are duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit than giving our all to a difficult task.” He adds, “Individuals, the private sector, and government must combine efforts to make real and lasting change so that each person has the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential. Thank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great nation.”