Seventh-grade student Riley Gantt, has been honored for her exemplary volunteer service with a state-level Certificate of Excellence from the 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Program. This recognition was given to Riley for being in the top 10% of all applicants from California.
Two years ago, when Riley was in 5th grade, her Sierra Canyon School class visited their partner school, Haddon Avenue School, in Pacoima. Riley was stunned to find out that the students did not have their own school supplies, and she decided to do something about it. She created Rainbow Pack and set the goal of being able to give a new backpack filled with supplies to every incoming Kindergarten student at Haddon.
She was so successful in her appeal that she was able not only to supply every Kindergartener but also every first grade student. A new goal was set--and surpassed--for the second year, and Riley and her Rainbow Pack members put together overmore than 1,000 filled backpacks, enough for every student at Haddon.
This year, her goal has again expanded to include students in need at another school: Strathern Street Elementary. A pencil drive (Pencils for Pals) is being planned for the spring.
Riley’s compassion and determination have resulted in impacting the lives of children who now start school with the supplies they need but also in teaching her about leadership and perseverance. Rainbow Pack has become an official 501(c)3 non-profit charity, and there is no question that Riley will continue to be a positive influence on many lives. She is an outstanding example of a young person who is truly making a difference.
-- Shelley Deutsch, Sierra Canyon School