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    BYU has a national celebrity.

    Katy Ballenger, a freshman from Salt Lake City majoring in communications, is to be one of 10 recipients of the National Caring Award, to be given on Nov. 23 in Washington, D.C.

    The Caring Institute said that Ballenger, who is also Miss Teen Utah 1996, was chosen for the award because of the club she created, Help Us Give Service, a school-based organization that encourages students to give service.

    Ballenger said that after completing more than 500 hours of community service her sophomore year at Olympus High School, she wanted to share the rewards of selfless service. She created HUGS the next year.

    HUGS, now in its third year, has given thousands of hours of service to 150 agencies, said a Caring Institute press release.

    The program that Ballenger created has spread to other high schools and junior high schools, including Orem High School, which has over 280 members, Ballenger said. The program has also spread to schools in Idaho and Vermont.

    Ballenger said HUGS will receive a designation that will allow it to be put into schools nationwide.

    Ballenger said that she was nominated for the National Caring Award in May by her friend, Marriane Moss, granddaughter of former Utah Senator Frank Moss.

    She and her friends and relatives will be flown to Washington, D.C., in November to receive the award. Ballenger will also spend a week at the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., as part of the award.

    When asked how she felt about the award, Ballenger said, “I was completely honored.”

    The Caring Institute, which was established in 1985, said that the purpose of these awards is to identify young people who have demonstrated extraordinary compassion and caring.

    Ballenger also recently received the Prudential of Community Spirit Award, sponsored by Prudential Life Insurance. Ballenger said that she was flown to Washington, D.C., and received a $6,000 cash prize.

    Because of her popularity, Ballenger has appeared in eight national magazines in the last month.

    In her spare time, Ballenger works with Down syndrome children and teaches dance to mentally and physically challenged youth.

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