BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - A Mason teen is using a nonprofit she started to help families locally, and for those efforts she has now won a national award.
High-school freshman Rishika Jeyaprakash is one of 102 students nationwide to win the the Prudential Spirit Award for community service. More than 30,000 people applied.
“I wanted to give back,” Jeyaprakash said. “I wanted to share my blessings with other people, and that’s how Little Helpers got started.”
Little Helpers performs service projects, raises money, donates toys to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and puts smiles on the faces of those it touches with its kindness.
The nonprofit has has a wide scope. Jeyaprakash and volunteers have packed food for orphans, worked with local organizations that help the poor, donated hair to kids affected by cancer, supplied essentials to victims of natural disasters, made scarves and blankets for the needy and more.
Recently, Jeyaprakash purchased gift cards from local businesses to give back to those in need. She says that way she supports small business owners and people less fortunate than herself.
Winning the Prudential Spirit Award meant getting a medal and $2,500 for more of that good giving.
Jeyaprakash says she used some of that money to help create a food pantry at her school.
She adds she wants to inspire others to help, explaining that planting a seed of kindness and watching it grow is what Little Helpers is all about.
Giving runs in the Jeyaprakash family, too. Her little sister started her own organization, Jewels for Joy, which gives handmade jewelry to essential workers.
“One thing is giving back by yourself, as I mentioned,” continued Jeyaprakash. “Another thing is starting that ripple effect where I give back, and the next person gives back, and on and on and on.”
“This is a young woman who has a poise and a commitment,” Mason City Schools spokesperson Tracey Carson said. “But also has the ability to lead and have others want to follow.”
“No matter your age, no matter who you are, you can always give back,” Jeyaprakash said. “The great thing is no matter where you are you can always give back, even the smallest thing.”