Stephanie Perl of West Windsor was one of six New Jersey students selected as distinguished finalists for her community service activities in the 10th Annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards##M:[more]##, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

Perl, 18, a senior at High School South, organized “Harry’s Heroes,” an ongoing donation drive and support campaign for troops stationed in Iraq and elsewhere overseas in December, 2003. She placed collection bins throughout the community, solicited donations of personal care items and supplies from local businesses, packaged the donations, and then sent them overseas through McGuire Air Force Base, the USO, and the American Red Cross.

“After my grandfather (Harry Perl) passed away, I wanted to honor his devotion to our country by helping the troops overseas,” says Stephanie. She centered her Girl Scout Gold Award project on sending needed supplies and personal notes to members of the armed forced in Iraq and Germany. (The News, December 18, 2003).

Born in West Windsor, her parents are Susan and Barry Perl. Her brother, Michael, a sophomore at High School South, is an Eagle Scout.

All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs, and Camp Fire USA councils, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Spirit of Community Award this past November. Local honorees were reviewed by state-level judges, who selected state honorees and distinguished finalists based on criteria such as personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact, and personal growth. For more information:

“To date, Harry’s Heroes has shipped over 4,"100 items donated by members of West Windsor and Plainsboro communities to American active duty soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, the Sinai, Kuwait, and Guantanamo,” says Stephanie. “Items have also been donated by Harry’s Heroes to the families of active duty troops through a partnership with the Heart to Hearts organization.”

Over 131 boxes of corporate donations have also been shipped overseas by Harry’s Heroes. Businesses include Lowe’s, Church & Dwight, Brace Place, Princeton Nassau Pediatrics, Kaduson, Strauss & Company, Ruff Renovations, and Capital Partners.

Stephanie is currently collecting donations for a shipment to be sent in March. Donation boxes are located at the West Windsor Public Library and Town Hall, Plainsboro Library and Town Hall, and Millstone River School. For more information write to harrysheroes@