Volunteers in Public Schools honored more than 40 school volunteers Thursday at its annual Volunteer Picnic and Apple Awards at University Baptist Church.

Samantha Miller, a volunteer at Shenandoah Elementary School, received the night’s top honor, the Crystal Apple Award, given to a person or organization who has volunteered for at least 10 years. She works with students one-on-one and in small groups

“I was happy just being nominated, but to hear my name called, I’m completely shocked,” Miller said after the ceremony.

Volunteers in five categories were honored and a top volunteer in each category was chosen as the category’s outstanding volunteer.

The winners in the four other categories received Golden Apple Awards.

Hope Dawan, community organizer for VIPS, said teachers and administrators at East Baton Rouge Parish public schools nominate volunteers. Judges then choose the top volunteer based on different criteria.

All nominees were honored with certificates before the five main award winners were announced.

“Whether they win or not, they are recognized for the work they do and given a certificate,” Dawan said.

She said some of the volunteers are really unpaid workers who come in every day and “fill the gaps the schools may have.”

The Rev. Clee Lowe received the Golden Apple in the elementary school category for his work mentoring students at the Mohican Education Center.

“Really what I do at the school, I look at it as doing what I love,” Lowe said. “I said it before, that to whom much is given, much is required.”

Dianne Smith, who works in the office at McKinley Magnet Middle and mentors students, received the Golden Apple Award in the secondary school category.

Nancy Garland won the Volunteer Organizer Golden Apple Award for her work organizing volunteers at Highland Elementary, specifically for her work with “To Highland With Love,” a reading program in which volunteers read to young students in the classroom.

“It was a huge shock, but very humbling,” said Garland, who has volunteered for 12 years at Highland.

Matherne’s Supermarket won the Community Partner Award for its job-placement program with students at Arlington Preparatory Academy.