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Student earns President’s Volunteer Service Award

Abigail Luetmer earned a President’s Volunteer Service Award for her work selling homemade bracelets to benefit Esther’s Home for Girls in India. The home rescues young girls from homelessness, slavery and the sex trade. (Contributed)

Abigail Luetmer, age 13, daughter of Ronald and Stacey Luetmer of Glenwood, was honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.

The award recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of time to serve their communities and their country. It was granted by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program on behalf of President Barack Obama.

Pope County 4-H nominated Luetmer for the national honor this fall in recognition of her volunteer service. She was also named the local Prudential Spirit of Community Award winner and advanced to the state competition.

Luetmer’s volunteer service project initially began in 2012 when she decided to raise money for Esther’s Home for Girls, an orphanage in India that rescues girls as young as 3 years old from homelessness, slavery and the sex trade.

An idea to make bracelets and sell them at her family’s garage sale resulted in Luetmer raising enough money to support a girl in India with food, clothes, books and school for one full year.

“I was motivated to help support the orphanage because there are a lot of girls in the home, like me, who by fate, don’t have the life I have,” Luetmer said in her application.

Luetmer personally knows the family that left life in America to start the homes in India. “They inspired me to do this,” she said. Though it took a long time to make the bracelets, Luetmer knew it would help girls receive a home, food and education.

“When I saw Abigail’s 4-H project at the county fair and read her records, I was very impressed with the initiative she had taken to raise money for the girls at the orphanage,” said Jody Koubsky, University of Minnesota 4-H program coordinator for Pope County. “It’s exciting to see young people realize they can make a huge difference in the world with simple acts and that they have the power to do great things if they just put their mind to it.”

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, recognizes middle level and high school students across America for outstanding volunteer service.