Madison Smith: USF Pay it Forward Scholarship finalist

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – WANE 15 is proud to once again partner with the University of Saint Francis for the school’s Pay it Forward scholarship. Last year, Adams Central High School student Kevin Brown was the winner of the four-year all tuition paid scholarship.

This year there are once again three finalists and a student from Edgerton High School in Ohio is among them.

“So this is the process of how we fill the shoe boxes,” explained senior Madison Smith. “We lay everything out based on categories, hats. We tend to put a bar of soap and toothbrush in every box because that’s something you want every kid to have. Educational supplies too.”

Madison Smith is the driving force behind her school’s shoe box donation drive. She’s a member of the fellowship of Christian Athletes Club at Edgerton High School in Ohio. In October 2017, she helped grow their local involvement in a national service project.

“Operation Christmas Child is an organization that packs shoe boxes filled with hygiene items, school supplies or toys and they put them in boxes and send them to kids around the world in developing countries who wouldn’t normally receive Christmas presents or usually don’t have access to these kinds of things,” explained Madison.

Initially just the Christian Athletes Club members were involved but club advisors said Madison had an idea. “Madison spoke up and said can we just get the whole school involved and pack as many boxes as we possibly can,” said Olivia Schaffner, Christian Athletes Club co-advisor and science teacher. “And we were like, sure.”

So that’s just what they did. Madison led a collection drive that went beyond her high school. “We took it community wide,” she said. “It has now been brought to our whole Northwest Ohio area so Fellowship of Christian Athletes Clubs in this area are now doing this project.”

“She changed the culture of our school,” said Tracy Rendleman, another Christian Athletes Club co-advisor and science teacher.

This year the drive filled 120 boxes. Madison says they’re more than just care packages. “They give these kids an opportunity to learn about God and expand on their faith which is something they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

Impacting lives is why Madison wants to attend the University of Saint Francis.

“I want to go to Saint Francis because they have an excellent nursing program which is what I aspire to be and I want to carry on that service and I want to help other people someday and I want to be that light in their life when they’re down or hurt or ill.”

“For me service and giving back to others has never been about awards, gifts, recognition. I feel like it’s something everybody should do out of the kindness of their heart because you never know when you could be on the flip side of things.”

“You just surge with joy because these little things I take for granted everyday make a kids day somewhere in the world. Something I might toss in the back of a drawer or toss in a basket, they use it and love it and cherish it and it’s humbling. It just kind of brings everything full circle.”

WANE 15 and the University of Saint Francis will announce the four-year full ride scholarship winner and the two partial scholarship winners later this month.

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