For the third straight year, First Lady Mary Pat Christie has launched the Spirit of a Hero Scholarship Program for students graduating from high school.

New Jersey Heroes (Facebook)

The program is derived from New Jersey Heroes, which is an initiative started by the First Lady in 2010 to showcase positive examples of Jersey residents and organizations impacting the community.

In just the first two years, 42 high school seniors have received $5,000 scholarships, totaling $210,000, through the Spirit of a Hero Scholarship Program.

“It’s just remarkable how many young people there are in our state doing really amazing things,” Christie said.

The First Lady estimates that more than 1,500 applications have been submitted over the past two years.

The selection process is a very thorough and involved one. Each application is read three times and evaluated by the all-volunteer New Jersey Heroes Scholarship Selection Committee.

Some of the community contributions that have been recognized range from students starting anti-bullying programs to redistributing instruments for students in need to providing the needy with brand new socks.

“It’s to reward our young people, who are really dedicating tremendous numbers of hours to give back to their communities, and I want to celebrate that,” Christie explained.

This year’s application deadline is set for Friday, March 20, at 5:00 p.m. Applications forms can be filled out online. The application can also be sent via US Mail, postmarked no later than March 20, and mailed to NJ Heroes, P.O. Box 95, Mendham, NJ, 07945-0095.

The winning recipients will be notified in May.

“If there’s a lot of great applications, we’ll give as many as possible,” Christie said.

“The more we go out and talk about the greatness of our young people, I think the better it is for everybody.”

Learn more about this great yearly program and other initiatives from First Lady Mary Pat Christie by visiting the New Jersey Heroes website and Facebook page.