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William James student earns national honor
Ava Mincey’s lemonade stand aids battle against Alzheimer’s
ava mincey
Ava Mincey is pictured during an Ava's Lemonade Stand event outside the Twin City Drug Company in Twin City. (Photo courtesy Twin City Drug Company)

A sixth-grader at William James Middle School was selected recently as one of two Georgia recipients of the national Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for 2021. 

Ava Mincey was nominated for the award by William James Principal Dr. Julie Mizell due to her extensive community service with the Alzheimer’s Association and the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s event. She was officially notified of the honor earlier this month, when she and her family received a letter from Prudential. 

More than 21,000 students across the United States applied or were nominated for the awards, and only 102 state honorees in the nation were chosen. Mincey will receive a $2,500 scholarship, an engraved silver medallion and a virtual celebration with the nation’s other recipients. 

The Prudential Spirit of Community Award honorees are chosen based on their service initiatives, their impact and effort, and personal growth over the course of the project they conduct. Mincey has raised more than $2,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association through online contributions to her Walk to End Alzheimer’s team and by selling lemonade throughout Statesboro and surrounding counties. 

Known as “Ava’s Lemonade,” she said she dedicates her efforts to her late great-grandmother, Daisy Littles, for whom her fundraising team is named. Besides her fundraising initiatives, Mincey also advocates for personal devices for caregivers that alert them to the exact location of their Alzheimer’s patients. 

“I feel like if she was still here today that she would support me more than anybody else,” Mincey said, referring to her great-grandmother.

Mincey’s community service has become a family affair. Her two brothers and parents often help her with the lemonade stand. She said her father even helped her create the lemonade recipe she now sells. In fact, Mincey has expanded the stand to include a variety of juices made from fresh fruits such as pineapples, peaches, strawberries and raspberries. 

“I think Ava has affected the community in such a positive way,” said her mother, Yolanda Mincey. “Through her volunteer efforts, she has met many amazing people that have encouraged her. She loves helping others on a daily basis.”

Her extensive hours of service also qualified her for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. If selected later this year, she will receive an award and certificate from President Joe Biden.

Annually, each state and the District of Columbia (D.C.) choose two honorees, one from middle school and one from high school. Mincey was selected as Georgia’s top middle school level youth volunteer. Kruthik Ravikanti, a senior at Alpharetta High School, is the state’s other recipient. 

“Above all, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for your compassionate dedication to improving the lives of others,” wrote Charles F. Lowrey, the chief executive officer of Prudential and Ronn Nozoe, CEO of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, in a joint letter to Mincey. “The kind of vision and commitment you have demonstrated is extremely important to the future of our neighborhoods, our cities and our nation.”

According to a press release from Prudential, the awards have been conducted annually in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) for 26 years. 

“While we’re especially proud to celebrate this year’s 102 state honorees, NASSP applauds every student who’s found a way to volunteer this past year,” Nozoe said.

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