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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Rileigh Leighton

Rileigh Leighton

Williamstown, New Jersey

Rileigh Leighton, 14, of Williamstown, N.J., an eighth-grader at Williamstown Middle School, is the founder and CEO of a nonprofit organization called “Rileigh’s Rainbows” that she uses to provide free school supplies to students in need in her school district. “When I was in the fourth grade I noticed that many of my classmates did not have all the necessary school supplies to start their school year off properly,” she said. “This made me very sad. I knew I had to somehow help my fellow classmates.”

So, four years ago, Rileigh asked her grade school principal to pick three students who couldn’t afford school supplies. Then, with money her parents gave her, she bought things like pencils, binders and book bags for them. Energized by that experience, Rileigh asked her parents to help her set up a nonprofit charity to raise more money, and wrote letters to family members requesting donations. That generated enough money to purchase school supplies for 10 more students. The following year, Rileigh was able to provide supplies to 100 kids in her district after friends and family members helped her organize a fundraising “paint night.” And last year, Rileigh held another very successful event, which, along with additional donations, made it possible for her to buy school supplies for 150 students. “I have been very blessed and lucky, and I wanted to share my good fortune with others who may need assistance,” said Rileigh.