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Wednesday, December 11, 2013339 high school students will receive the Cook County Sheriff’s Youth Service Medal of Honor tonight as recognition for volunteering more than 100 hours to their community and others in the last year, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said today.

The ceremony, now in its 26th year, will take place at 7 p.m. tonight at the UIC Forum.

In addition to the minimum of 100 service hours, applicants were required to submit essays about their experiences. Examples of service from this year’s winners include volunteering in homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes animal shelters and rehab centers; organizing 5k walks; building houses for the poor; and leading mission trips across the globe. The cumulative community service time among the 339 winners eclipsed 35,000 hours

This year’s distinguished youth speaker is Jen Rubino. Jen is the founder of Cards for Hospitalized Kids, a non-profit organization that works to bring joy to sick children through uplifting cards. As a result of Jen’s efforts, over 40,000 kids in hospitals in all 50 states have received uplifting cards. Jen’s inspiration comes from her own experience in a hospital, having undergone 20+ surgeries in order to beat a connective tissue and bone disease. A Park Ridge native, Jen is a recent graduate of Maine South High School.

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