Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Czarina Alfonso Is New Jersey’s Top High School Youth Volunteer

Demarest, NJ: Czarina Alfonso, a junior at the Academy of the Holy Angels, has been named New Jersey’s top high school youth volunteer in the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. She was selected for her outstanding work with “Give it a Shot,” the non-profit pneumonia vaccination program she established for children in the Philippines.

As a state honoree, this Clifton resident will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she will enjoy further recognition. While Alfonso is in Washington, she will be considered for one of 10 national awards. National honorees receive an additional $5,000, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their nominating school or organization, and $5,000 grants for the charities of their choice.

Due to the number of volunteer hours Alfonso has invested in her program, she has also qualified for the President's Volunteer Service Award.

“Czarina exemplifies a spirit of commitment to others in the global community that demonstrates a maturity and selflessness beyond her years,” AHA Principal Jean Miller said. “Our goal at Holy Angels is to help young ladies find their strengths so that they can, in turn, work to make the changes the world so desperately needs. Czarina has learned that lesson firsthand through the exemplary work she is doing in the Philippines.”

The daughter of two doctors, Alfonso was moved to establish Give it a Shot after visiting the Philippines during her summer vacations. She noticed that many people have a difficult time accessing health care, and understood the importance of vaccines after witnessing her father’s battle with polio.

She researched which vaccine would be the most beneficial. When she discovered that pneumonia is a leading cause of death in the Philippines, she began to raise funds to vaccinate day care-aged children against this ailment.
As a freshman, Alfonso raised $8,000, enough to vaccinate 145 children. During her sophomore year, she raised enough money to provide another 200 vaccines.

She works with health officials in the province of Antipolo to share information about the program and receive parental consent. A local pediatrician stores and administers the vaccines. While the program is in progress, Alfonso assists parents with paperwork and interacts with the children.

“I'm incredibly grateful for the ability to provide a simple practice that can save lives and the ability to meet the children we helped. AHA has helped me to grow and realize a need for me to be more proactive.”

She added, "This program helps me to do something meaningful for the country where the majority of my family lives, and for my heritage.

"I remember a mother hugging me after her son and daughter were vaccinated, and explaining how they had walked two hours in the heat to come to my program. That made me realize how much of a difference it was making.”

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


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