Laurence Manning student recognized for volunteer efforts

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A sophomore at Laurence Manning Academy has earned recognition as one of two South Carolina Youth Volunteers of 2018 for ideas she implemented to improve relations between law enforcement agencies and the residents of Clarendon County.

Alyssa Gottheiner, 15, whose parents are retired police officers, was recognized by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program that partners Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals to honor young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

"I wanted to make a change in my community," Gottheiner said after accepting the award. "The goal was to provide positive interactions for the benefit of law enforcement and the community."

As one of the South Carolina honorees, Gottheiner received $1,000, an engraved medallion and an all-expenses paid trip in late April to Washington, where she and South Carolina's other honoree, Gracey Chafin, 11, of Graniteville, will join honorees from all 50 states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events.

In Gottheiner's program titled "Clarendon County Hometown Heroes," she organized a student essay contest and a "Community Day" to help improve relations between local law enforcement and the residents of her county.

Gottheiner, who garnered support for her program from Clarendon County Sheriff Tim Baxley, spread news of her program by distributing 3,000 fliers at more than 10 local schools and through social media, her church and a local newspaper. Each essay winner would get to have breakfast with the law enforcement officer he or she showcased and ride to school in the officer's patrol car. Later at a county staff meeting, Gottheiner would present those officers showcased in the winning essays with a special plaque.

Part two of Gottheiner's program included a "Community Day," where law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders could interact with the students. Gottheiner had more than 50 sponsors and more than 30 volunteers participate throughout the day providing free food, games, bounce houses and patrol cars and fire trucks for the children to observe up close.

"First responders work so hard dedicating their lives to our community," Gottheiner added. "I want them to know how much we appreciate what they do and the sacrifices they make for us."