A local student has given more than 490 volunteer hours to the community since 2009.
Along the way, Hannah Hartzog has learned many life lessons. This summer she was recognized with the first Edmond Excellence Award for her efforts. The award was given by the Edmond LibertyFest Scholarship committee. LibertyFest is an all-volunteer organization that produces 10 days worth of events leading up to the Fourth of July in Edmond.
Hannah, the daughter of Jim and Carol Hartzog of Edmond, was chosen for the service-based award from a group of students who each submitted an essay, a letter of recommendation, a questionnaire and total service hours.
“A board read the material from the applicants and chose someone that represented leadership among his or her peers and a servant’s heart,” said Alexandra Eppler with the LibertyFest Scholarship committee. “Hannah was the first person ever to receive the award and is truly an outstanding individual.”
Hannah began volunteering when she was in the third grade.
“My mom first got me into volunteering when I was about 8 years old and in the third grade,” Hannah said. “We were in the car one day and she was talking about the HOPE Center and how much fun it would be for us to volunteer there and help others by folding clothes and going through bags of donated items. We determined what should go to the Center’s resale shop, or what would be sold in bulk and what should be tossed. Also, I was able to help families pick out clothes and children (pick out) toys. In addition, two weeks of the summer was spent on the Back-to-School Backpack program, readying supplies for needy children. l was so excited and, ever since, l’ve been volunteering there.”
HOPE Center of Edmond is a nonprofit social service agency that serves individuals and families by providing emergency food, clothing, household items and financial assistance. The agency has been serving the Edmond community for 28 years. HOPE Center is a volunteer-based organization.
“Hannah is dedicated to helping others and has demonstrated compassion and kindness in her volunteer work. She is a natural leader, who truly leads by example. Hannah is energetic, and is not afraid to express her ideas on how to better serve the community,” said Cheryl Woods, HOPE Center volunteer coordinator.
Hannah is now a freshman at North High School, and in keeping with her goal to become a pediatric physical therapist, she applied to be an athletic trainer and was one of five freshmen chosen.
“Hannah works well in groups and is always willing to do her part and more if that is what is needed,” said Hannah’s eighth-grade science teacher and Edmond North wrestling head coach Andy Schneider.
He added Hannah had expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the medical field after high school and college, and in order to prepare for this, she was interested in the athletic training program at Edmond North.
Random Acts of Kindness Month was begun in Edmond in 2012 in answer to a presentation of Rachel’s Challenge.
“Rachel’s Challenge represents how much a teen named Rachel impacted not only people from her school, Columbine High School in Colorado, but people in her community too,” Hannah said. “She wanted everyone to start random acts of kindness, causing a chain reaction that is contagious. Rachel was killed in a mass shooting at the school.”
Hannah added Rachel’s Challenge impacted her emotionally and physically. She said she has become more caring and heartfelt about how much other people are hurting and she works on being their friend.
“When we watched the movie clip about Rachel’s impact on others I couldn’t help but feel how much that one presentation impacted me, I wanted to get involved,” Hannah said.
Hannah said in her community she sees many people volunteering by picking up trash or helping someone with a flat tire. She added when her family sees homeless people on the side of the road they give them an information card about the homeless shelter, where their real needs can be met.
“Also, I love when you are at Starbucks or any fast-food restaurant, and you start a chain reaction by paying for the person’s drink or food behind you. It’s so contagious and hopefully the person after you does the same thing. My mom and I had fun doing it and watching their reaction in the rearview mirror.”
Hannah said her favorite act of kindness is volunteering at different locations.
“Of those, I felt most gratified working at Infant Crisis Center because, as an adopted child, l could relate to the teen parents with their children. I got to hold and care for babies and chat with the parents; organize new and used clothing and infant/toddler supplies and clean the play toys daily.”
Hannah said, “l volunteer to help me understand how I can help change someone’s life by helping them have better living conditions, or by giving them hope when they have hit a dead end in their life and just need some redirecting.
“I felt so comforted because many moms were teen moms and my biological mom was a teen mom until I was adopted into my wonderful family I live with now. It helped me understand many moms are going through what my mom went through, but also it helped me get more comfortable with infants and toddlers.
“That is why volunteering is my favorite act of kindness,” Hannah said.
A local student has given more than 490 volunteer hours to the community since 2009.
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