Riley Stone had no idea she had been nominated for the Mother Josaphat Medal at Manor College. So it came as a big surprise when she found out she won.
A tradition at Manor College, the medal is given to students who exhibit a responsible lifestyle and give back to the community, so Stone, a Parkwood resident, was a natural choice. Since she was 12, Stone has run Funds for Families, her own charity where she makes and sells keychains to raise money for families in need. She donates in the form of $25 TD Bank cards, which she distributes to families at the Ronald McDonald Charities House and others in need.
On top of running the charity for the past decade, she’s involved in a number of community service projects around campus and her neighborhood. Ask her about her accomplishments, though, and she’ll remain humble.
“I just like helping kids who are sick and anyone who needs help,” she said.
Stone appeared in the Northeast Times in 2011 when she first started her charity. In 2009 Stone had a sudden seizure that left her hospitalized for three weeks. Colleen Stone, Riley’s mother, said her daughter was shocked when she was able to leave St. Christopher’s Hospital, but children and families who had been there before her remained after she left.
“She said but mom, my friends are still here,” Colleen Stone recalled.
But Riley doesn’t want to linger on her own hospitalization. Her stay inspired her to give back to others, and that’s when she decided to create Funds for Families. Since then, she’s raised thousands of dollars for families in need. Even as she nears graduation from Manor with a degree in early childhood education, she has no plans to stop.
Stone often delivers the cards to the Ronald McDonald rooms at St. Christopher Hospital, which provide lodging for families staying long term.
“When I was in the hospital I realized how hard it was for families being in the hospital that long emotionally and financially, so we give cards to people to just help them with things like food or gas,” Stone said.
She also volunteers her time to special-needs organizations such as Ability Tree in New Jersey, a camp for people of all abilities to socialize and participate in activities.
When not volunteering her time elsewhere, Stone is likely busy creating keychains, one of the main sources to raise funds. Over the last decade she’s created countless custom-made keychains thanks to word of mouth about her efforts, though she’ll now be taking requests via Venmo, a platform that allows users to exchange money.
While being recognized by Manor College for her accomplishments was an honor, Stone didn’t need the validation to continue loving what she does.
“I like making the keychains and I like knowing it’s for a bigger cause,” Stone said. “Helping people get better.” ••
The Venmo account for Funds for Families can be found @RileyStone.