Madeline Payne named Montgomery County Youth Hero

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Submitted Photo

Senior Madeline Payne distributes items from a drive that she organized and implemented at NPHS.

TOWAMENCIN- Madeline Payne, a senior at NPHS, never would have thought that her idea to help the homeless would win her the Montgomery County Youth Hero Award. The award was presented to a student or young person who exhibits outstanding leadership and implements something in the community to help others. Payne fit these qualifications by not only collecting a few small items to give to the homeless, but also progressively making her idea into a school-wide drive of collecting small items to give to the less fortunate for Christmas.

“Sophomore year, I’m not sure how, but I got the idea to do something for the homeless on Christmas, because I felt really bad that they don’t have somewhere to go or someone to be with. My mom and I got items from the dollar store and went out to give it to them. The dollar store starts to add up when you get a lot of things, so we couldn’t end up helping that many people,” Payne explained.

Payne was surprised by the number of people that were homeless and in need of help. She came to the realization that she wanted to continue helping and wanted more people to help hoping for more items, so last year she reached out to the Key Club advisor, Mrs. Linda Law.

“Mrs. Law helped me write a proposal, and I sent that over to Mr. Bauer. I basically wrote up a request to start a drive at North Penn and he approved it. Both last year and this year we did the drive. This year we got almost double the amount of stuff we did last year which is awesome,” said Payne.

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Senior Madeline Payne passes out the collected items to the homeless in Philadelphia, PA.

Law nominated Payne for the award, and she was grateful, but expressed that she feels she honestly didn’t deserve the award. Payne did not want to take the credit away from other people that collected items, because there is no way she could have helped as much as NPHS did this year if she were by herself. Payne was excited that people would notice the positivity she brought to the community, but she explained that she only started something small that the student body helped to make a huge project.

“I was the one who went to Philadelphia on Christmas, but I feel like I’m just the messenger. I told the Key Club about it and gave a thank you to them for giving the items. Not only for myself, but obviously for these people who don’t have the opportunity to come to North Penn to say thank you to everyone who gave them something small. I’m kind of just conveying the message that [the homeless] feel grateful. I want our students to know they made a difference,” said Payne.

Trying to publicize the drive Payne wanted to start was not easy; trying to get the word out and let people know what she was doing was the hardest part for her in a school of 3,000 students. After not receiving enough donations after a while, Payne went to the Key Club and an incentive was given to donating items. After Love Park, a popular place where the homeless congregate, closed, an issue was brought about; Payne wasn’t sure where to bring and distribute the items..

“The last two years we went to Love Park, but it was shut down this year. We thought maybe a shelter, but we asked a police officer, and he told us Logan Circle. When we drove past, there was so many people, because other people have the idea to hand out things on Christmas. As soon as we stepped out the car we were swarmed. They asked if we’re giving out stuff and they surrounded us. We didn’t think we would get rid of everything, but it was gone within literally 2 minutes,” Payne explained.

Anyone who has ever volunteered knows how good it feels. For me I feel more as the implementer, and I learned if everyone does something small, it creates something big”

— Senior Madeline Payne

Being partially heartbroken when having to tell the homeless that they ran out of items, Payne still felt great about the number of people with the help of North Penn that she was able to help compared to the first year. Since Payne is going off to college next year, Key Club hopes to find someone else to continue the drive at North Penn, hoping to make it an annual tradition. Taking on the job will be big shoes to fill looking at all the time Payne sacrificed organizing items and the drive at school. As she reflects on the effect that the school has had on the drive, she sees how it also affected her life.

“This showed me you can do positive things and be an example for others. I just had small idea, and I was able to make it into something big. It wasn’t that hard and didn’t take that long. This is a good example for others that you could do something, and it can affect others more than you think it will. Anyone who has ever volunteered knows how good it feels. For me I feel more as the implementer, and I learned if everyone does something small, it creates something big,” said Payne.