By Chris Bavender
A Noblesville teen was recently awarded a national award for her volunteer service. Madeline Reiff received the Gold Spiritual of Prudential Community Service Award for her contributions to the White River Christian Church Food Pantry. The award recognizes middle and high school youth who make meaningful and impactful volunteer contributions to their community.
“It’s a big honor and it makes me feel pretty great,” said Reiff, a freshman at Options Charter School of Noblesville. “It brings recognition to food pantries.”
Reiff started volunteering with her family when she was 8.
“I like helping and meeting the guests. Anyone can have a hard time,” the 15-year-old said. “It means a lot to serve others with joy and passion.”
Reiff’s mother, Sarah, said volunteering was a big part of her life growing up and she wanted to instill that same spirit of service in her children.
“It’s a great honor to see your children serve others because it’s a lifelong skill and compassion they develop and can use the rest of their lives,” Sarah said. “I think it’s important for kids to see the value in serving their community.”
Reiff volunteers about 10 hours a week at the food pantry based on her school schedule. She also does other volunteer work, such as picking up diapers or food items for the pantry. She has dedicated more than 500 volunteer and service hours.
“I get joy from helping people,” she said.
But volunteering isn’t the only way Reiff has given back. She also designed, illustrated and wrote a book called “What Everyone Needs to Know,” which is about the death of George Floyd. She provided a copy to the Noblesville Diversity Library at City Hall, to her school, and it was given to the Floyd family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, who presented it to the family.
“I tell people that it’s not OK, (Floyd’s death) should not have happened, it was wrong,” Maddie said. “To know his family got the book is just, wow. I didn’t think they would actually receive it.”
Maddie believes anyone, no matter their age, can make a difference and encourages other youth to do what they can in their communities.
“They should help out because it’s a really good way to interact with people and help them get stuff they need,” she said. “Sometimes people have lost their jobs and are trying to keep things stable and it can be hard for them.”