Gren at a Glance: Vanko helps out


Photo courtesy of Maddie Vanko

For most people, fourth grade was a time of carefree adventures on the playground and spending countless hours inventing games with friends. However, in fourth grade senior Madeline Vanko began a project, “Pennies for a Playground in Hailey’s Backyard”, aimed to improve the childhood of a disabled girl.

“Her mom had to lug all this equipment whenever Hailey just wanted to go to the park. When me and my friend read this article, we decided we wanted to raise money so that Hailey could have her own playground in her backyard. It was a great success,” Vanko said, “My favorite memory was the day I got to go officially meet Hailey. She was just so happy to be there, and yet she had so many problems. It just makes you ten times more grateful for the life that you live.”

This moment proved to create a lasting impression on Vanko, who volunteers monthly at her family’s soup kitchen. Vanko continues to see the impact she has on the lives of others at the soup kitchen.

“It was one of the guy’s birthdays, and we sang “Happy Birthday” to him. And the look on his face — I don’t think he’s ever been sung “Happy Birthday” to before.”

When Vanko gives back to others, she truly feels incredible. She is confident that others will share her passion of charity once they too give back.

“Unless you have experienced it and you feel it for yourself, you will never experience what I am trying to communicate to you. It just makes you feel so good inside to see somebody smile because of something you did for them,” she said.

By: Katie Weber