West Chester Hillendale student earns national volunteer award

WEST CHESTER A West Chester elementary school student will be honored in Washington in May as one of Pennsylvania's top two youth volunteers of 2014 by a nationwide program that recognizes students who help others.

Nikolas Toocheck, 10, created a campaign called "Running the World for Children," for which he is running a marathon on each continent to raise money for a nonprofit his grandfather started that gives coats to kids, called Operation Warm. He has raised about $20,000 so far.

"I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to do something I love and help people at the same time?' " Nikolas said.

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The fifth grader at Hillendale Elementary School will receive $1,000, a paid trip to Washington, and an engraved silver medallion. The award is presented by Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Alexis Werner, 18, of Pittsburgh, was named the state's other top student volunteer for her work with military veterans. Eight other Pennsylvania students, including two from Chester County, were finalists for the award. - Michaelle Bond