Durai Pandithurai, assistant divisional financial secretary for Divisional Headquarters, Salvation Army (Cedar Hill, Texas) and Ravi Sankar, math tutor and high school sophomore, Trinity Preparatory School (Oviedo, Fla.), were among this year’s recipients of the President’s Volunteer Service Awards presented during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May this year.

When Pandithurai immigrated to the United States in 1974, The Salvation Army in New York City provided him with clothes, support, and a job as a bell ringer in the Red Kettle Christmas Campaign. Pandithurai now works for the charitable organization. He organized the Salvation Army’s first Indian Outpost to support the immigrant population living in Dallas. He also helps families prepare their taxes and create financial plans for retirement, has traveled to the Gulf Coast to provide disaster relief following Hurricane Katrina, and still volunteers as a Red Kettle bell ringer in cities throughout Texas.


Sankar scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of the SAT exam in 2005 as a high school freshman at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park, Fla. Now he is a sophomore and helps students prepare for the SAT by teaching math at the Chinmaya Mission of Central Florida and also public high school students who cannot afford to enroll in a private SAT review course.

Students tutored by Sankar have reported increased academic success and a marked improvement in speed, accuracy, and test scores. In November 2005, in recognition of his volunteer service, Sankar received a Governor’s Point of Light Award from Governor Jeb Bush.