FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne is once again awarding one incoming freshman with the Pay it Forward scholarship to recognize their work going above and beyond to serve others.
WANE 15 is partnering with USF to feature the three finalists for the 2023-2024 scholarship.
Siddha Hall started a charity when she was only 8 years old. Now a senior at Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour, Indiana, she’s proud to see just how big of an impact its had.
Siddha and her brother created Friendship Wheels, which works in tandem with another organization, the Firemen’s Cheer Fund, to provide bikes to underprivileged children during the holiday season.
Friendship Wheels raises money to purchase the bikes through fundraisers like an annual community bike ride, and donations that come from all over the country. The group uses social media, radio, TV and flyers to get the word out, and they speak about their mission at local schools, businesses, and youth groups.
Over the years, Friendship Wheels has raised more than $28,000 dollars, allowing the group to purchase more than 400 bikes for kids at Christmas time.
By now, the partnership with Friendship Wheel and the Firemen’s Cheer Fund it a well-oiled machine. The Firemen’s Cheer Fund plays “Santa” and buys toys every year for kids in need. Working off of families’ Christmas wish lists, the folks with the Firemen’s Fund tell Siddha and her group how many kids asked for bikes. Siddha then buys the bikes, stores them at the warehouse, and when it’s time to deliver, she’s there to witness the joy firsthand.
“Obviously they’re very excited, along with the other toys that they get,” said Siddha. “Not even just the kids’ reactions, it’s the parents too, just how happy they are and grateful they are that there are these organizations that are able to give their kids Christmas when they wouldn’t be able to.”
The happiness she brings those families year after year is why Siddha dedicates so much of her time to paying it forward.
“What I’ve learned from Friendship wheels is that when you give back to others, you’re giving back to yourself,” she said. “The feeling of giving back to your community and creating a better world around you is just… it’s a feeling you don’t get to experience unless you’re doing exactly that.”
WANE 15 and the University of Saint Francis will name the 6th Pay it Forward scholarship winner the week of December 5th.