13-year-old Liberty Lake girl honored with President’s Volunteer Service Award

LIBERTY LAKE, Wa. — Middle school isn’t an easy time for most teenagers.

Kids are trying to stay ahead in school, excel in extracurricular activities and develop valuable friendships. One local 7th-grader is doing all that, while also giving back to our community in big ways.

We’ve met this young girl before and on Monday, she was given national recognition for her accomplishments. She hopes this inspires others to give back, too.

Sindhu Surapaneni was first recognized by the community when she started teaching free art classes during the pandemic. Now, she’s being recognized by the president of the United States.

“When I do good for others I have a sense of accomplishment and it just feels good to know that you are helping people,” Surapaneni explained.

Her journey to this point started at just 5-years-old. Her neighbor taught her to knit and soon after, she started teaching others to do the same.

“I know this will be a very significant moment in my life,” she said in front of all her fellow classmates.

Fast forward six years and President Joe Biden is thanking her for her time.

“This award is a reinforcement that my journey is on the right path,” Surapaneni said.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is given as a civil award to honor dedicated volunteers that offer hours of personal time to help others. She got the gold award, and that requires over 500 hours of volunteer work.

“Public recognition is not only a morale boost for me, but it also tells others that if they put in the hard work, they can achieve similar success,” Surapaneni explained.

Volunteering has always been a part of life for her family and she says; it’s what inspired her.

“The more you do for your community, the happier you’ll feel & you’ll also notice the increase in self-confidence when you volunteer,” Surapaneni said.

Her online art classes contributed to that 500-hour total, but she’s also helped at Toys for Tots, local food banks, a local knitting club and she has taught Bollywood dance, just to name a few.

She has also donated $4,000, made by her own artwork, to Blessings Under the Bridge.

As for her future plans, Surapaneni says she doesn’t know what she wants to do just yet. She thinks she wants to continue teaching art, and she knows, she’s on the right path.

You can find more of Sindhu’s work on her Facebook Page.

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