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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Ryan Janaske

Ryan Janaske

Ashburn, Virginia

Ryan Janaske, 12, of Ashburn, Virginia, a seventh-grader at Trailside Middle School, stuffs up to 100 backpacks with school supplies each summer and donates them to elementary schools in her area for students who can’t afford to start the school year with everything they need. Ryan used to help with a school-supply drive led by her mother at her workplace, but after her mom got a new job, Ryan knew that many of the kids who got help were no longer going to get the school supplies they needed. “I came up with the idea of starting my own charity because I liked what my mom did and how it made me feel when I helped people,” said Ryan. She called her charity “Kids Helping Kids.”

Before the start of summer, Ryan kicks off her fundraising efforts by sending letters to family members and friends to solicit donations. Next, she goes shopping to buy backpacks, pencils, glue sticks and other items. Then Ryan, with the help of three friends and her mother, stuffs the backpacks and gets them ready for delivery. At the end of the summer, she and her team load up her mother’s car and take the backpacks to school principals around her community. “I know the work I do each summer puts smiles on kids’ faces,” said Ryan. “I feel like I am making the world a better place, one backpack at a time.”