Danielle Eckert 22, of Batavia, has volunteered more than 500 hours in Genesee County and the number keeps rising.
Batavia High School gave Eckert a scholarship for college based on good character, commitment and community service. Today she has been nominated by her employer, Target, as "Best in Community." One nominee out of each Target district will be chosen to visit the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennesee.
"I was shocked because I didn't even know about this program," Eckert said, "but I was extremely happy and thankful."
She hopes she is selected so she can change the life of a child.
Her love for helping others started when she was in fourth grade. She helped out at a game night at Robert Morris Elementary.
"I just remember really enjoying helping other kids and getting to meet a lot of new people. It made me want to keep volunteering."
Eckert has a special place in her heart for volunteering and said it comes from her mother.
"In sixth grade I started doing the Walk for Juvenile Diabetes because my mother suffered from it. When she died, I was in seventh grade and I knew that I really wanted to continue doing what I could. It was sort of a remembrance for her, and it just grew from there."
While she maintains a busy schedule juggling work and events, she also makes time for her church, The Pentecostals of Genesee: United Pentecostal Church, in Batavia.
"The most important thing I gain is knowing I've made other people happy."
She is currently working on a talent show through Target to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy.
"It's still in the works and (needs) a lot of ironing out."
Volunteering isn't just about the rewarding experience for yourself, but also the effect it leaves on those you help.
" I remember one time when I was at work, a child around 10 ran up to me and asked, 'Do you remember me? You were the person in charge of my group at church.' She reassured me how much fun she had and (said) she was hoping to come back and work with me again. It's a nice reward when people remember you and look forward to seeing you at another event."
Eckert believes everyone should volunteer at least once in their lifetime. She said although she may be young, it seems everyone in general is too consumed with themselves.
"I've noticed people don't even really smile at each other or appreciate others. I think it's good to work together in a group, get to know people in your community, and help others."
She has a passion for art as well and is working on starting an art club with kids in second to fifth grade.
Here is a glimpse of some of the events she has volunteered for: YMCA Healthy Kids Days; Jackson School's Breakfast with Santa; Quiznos Subs; Children's Christmas event; craft fairs; Christmas in the City; National Night Out, Genesee County Fair; juvenile diabetes; Light of Hope (cancer support); fundraisers for troops/military support; and various church events
Disclosure: Tasia Boland is employed by Target.