When Ryan Kirkpatrick, a fifth-grader at Cranberry Station Elementary School in Westminster, was handed three certificates by his principal in March during his reading class, it was unexpected.
"I was in shock," Ryan said.
For spending about 800 hours volunteering, mostly through the Volunteer Kids Network, a nonprofit organization that connects kids with volunteer opportunities in their communities, Ryan was honored by President Barack Obama through the 2014 President's Volunteer Service Award.
He also received a Certificate of Excellence from the judges in the 2015 Prudential Spirit of the Community awards for being in the top 10 percent of volunteers in Maryland.
Ryan's mother, Sharon Kirkpatrick, a secretary at Cranberry Station Elementary, said community service is a family tradition that began with Ryan's grandmother. She said Ryan, 11, began volunteering about three years ago.
"I do it because I want to help others and I just like to give back," Ryan said.
As a member of the Volunteer Kids Network, Ryan has helped organizations such as Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and the American Red Cross. Some of his past individual service projects include designing and selling note cards for Ben's Gift, a nonprofit which benefits children with cancer; participating as a runner in Ben's Run, which benefits children with cancer; and growing a container vegetable and herb garden to help a local family in need.
His most recent project through the Kids Volunteer Network was a comfort kit and hygiene drive for the American Red Cross during which he collected supplies for families who have lost belongings in disasters such as floods and fires, Sharon Kirkpatrick said.
Ryan said he hopes other kids his age will be inspired to volunteer.
"I hope that they can learn that it's good to help others who are less fortunate," Ryan said.
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