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State Honoree

Maria Ickes

Maryland

Maria Ickes, 15, of Waldorf, Md., a freshman at McDonough High School in Pomfret, founded a community service organization that provides holiday gifts, food, clothing, and other items to needy children and their families. When she was just 8 years old and shopping with her mother for Easter, Maria realized that many children don’t receive an Easter basket. She thought it would be a good idea to try to provide a basket to every child whose family could not afford to buy one. The next year, she filled and distributed 24 Easter baskets with the help of family, neighbors and friends, and her project has been growing ever since. So far, Maria and her helpers have collected donations of more than $20,000 in money and supplies, and arranged for less fortunate families in her area to receive more than 200 Easter baskets, 50 Christmas stockings, 300 school boxes filled with items needed for the first day of school, 1,100 items of non-perishable food, plus new and used clothing and baby bags. “I don’t always get to meet the people we help or see them smile or shed tears of thankfulness and joy,” said Maria. “But that doesn’t change the magical effect of my community service projects. Just knowing that lives have been touched is enough for me.”