Junior Miss Apple Festival honored for philanthropyPublished 5:03pm Wednesday, December 23, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Most kids Hannah Montgomery’s age are busy filling their days with defining the ever changing terms of social status, mastering the latest video games and tech gadgets or swooning over vampires.
But for the 13-year-old Edwardsburg girl, her adolescence is being defined by her activism.
Recently, Montgomery, a student at Ring Lardner Middle School in Niles was recognized for her philanthropic efforts that surge through her community and even stretch a little beyond.
Montgomery has been volunteering since she was in first grade. Her first volunteer job? A bell ringer for the Salvation Army during the holiday season.
“I ring the bell for the Salvation Army every single year,” she said.
Montgomery lists her volunteer work emphatically. It is something she is obviously proud of and extremely enthusiastic about.
“I’ve been volunteering at the Ronald McDonald family room at Memorial Hospital,” Montgomery said.
Ronald McDonald rooms are developed especially for families of children who are receiving ongoing care.
They are equipped with all the comforts of a traditional family room, sofas and loveseats, appliances and televisions.
It’s a place, Montgomery said, “where families can come down and get away,” from rooms filled with monitors and Ivs.
As a volunteer, Montgomery has helped raise funds used to maintain the room at Memorial, collecting pop tabs that are turned into dollars for the cause.
She is serving on the Ronald McDonald Teen Board, a youthful arm of the organization that works to raise money for family rooms as well.
Recently, the group held a “Teddy Bear Concert” at Indiana University South Bend, which allowed those attending to get in without paying admission by donating a teddy bear. The bears, go to mothers whose children have been transferred to the hospital.
At a McDazzel auction, the reigning Junior Miss Apple Festival offered up dog training services for bid. In addition to volunteering, Montgomery trains and shows dogs.
She raised $400 on the winning bid, which was followed by an offer by another bidder to match those funds for another session. Montgomery raised $800 for the family room, alone.
“It makes me feel good inside,” she said. “If I can help someone and make them smile, then I’ve done my job.”
Montgomery was recently recognized for her contributions to her community by the Michiana chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), which celebrated the contributions of area philanthropic individuals.
In the spirit of giving back to the community, Montgomery also has some suggestions for other young people her age, to whom volunteering might be a new experience.
“It’s really fun and it will make you feel good,” she said. These days, she added, many young people find themselves challenged by access to alcohol and drugs and other destructive behavior.
“By volunteering,” Montgomery said. “It’s going to help you stay away from those things.”
Montgomery is busy. She’s also involved with the National Junior Honor Society and she’s got her eye on the future. The eighth grader hopes to attend Michigan State University and earn a degree in Elementary Education.
One might say, she’s teaching people a thing or two already.