After noticing a need for clothing at a local food pantry, Madison Fanta, of Saint John, IN, decided to do something about it. At age 9, she started donating her own clothing to the pantry to help other children. Shortly thereafter, her collection expanded to a dedicated room at the pantry and Maddie’s Helping Hands was born.

On Friday, November 13, Madison, a 15-year-old Girl Scout Senior, was honored for her work during the 11th annual Power of Children Awards by The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, IN. The award recognizes young philanthropists (grades 6-11) across the country for their significant contributions to society.

“My project was inspired by my Nana, who works at a local food pantry,” Madison explained. “When I went there and saw all the kids and people in need of clothing, I asked my family and friends to donate clothes for people in need. I think it’s important to give back because not everyone enjoys the same privileges.”

As one of five recipients, Madison received a $2,000 grant, which she plans to use for purchasing undergarments to distribute at the food pantry.

“Madison’s project reveals her compassionate and philanthropic nature,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum. “Her vision to clothe the underserved in her community, and her commitment to grow her project through recruitment of significant numbers of volunteers from the elderly to fellow Girl Scouts, demonstrate that Madison is precisely the kind of inspirational young person the Power of Children Awards program was created to honor and recognize.”

Madison, who is a lifelong Girl Scout, plans to use Maddie’s Helping Hands as the basis for her Gold Award project. The Girl Scout Gold Award, which celebrates its centennial in 2016, is the highest award that Girl Scouts ages 14-18 may earn. The leadership skills, organizational skills, and sense of community and commitment required to complete the process set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship. Girls complete seven steps to earn the Gold Award, including the completion of a significant service project.

“The Gold Award is important to me because it means that I am growing as a Girl Scout and I’m able to accomplish more than I ever thought,” she said. “The most important lesson I’ve learned as a Girl Scout is to give back to the community.”

To learn more about Maddie’s Helping Hands, watch the video below:

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