Tia Brennen has done more for the community in her 11 years than most people have done in a lifetime.
The generous Minto girl was last week recognised for her fantastic community efforts and named the NSW Young Volunteer of the Year for 2017.
“I was very surprised that I got it,” she said.
“I was happy for all the other contestants that got one as well. I was so excited. I can’t say any words, I’m just so happy.”
Tia has spent more than two years collecting unused or abandoned bicycles, restoring them and donating them to kids who cannot afford them
To date, she has restored more than 300 bikes.
“I was at the caravan park where my family goes for Christmas and I was riding around,” she said.
“I went past the rubbish bins and saw a load of bikes there.
“I got the idea that I could collect the bikes and recycle them to kids in need.
“When we got home Mum made some calls and that got the wheels rolling.”
The Minto public school student’s other volunteering efforts have included feeding the homeless with local charity One Meal – It Makes a Difference, running toy drives, delivering flowers and gifts to nursing homes, creating care packages for people in refuges and making her own lip balm to raise money for the PCYC.
Tia said she feels good helping others.
“I do it to give back to the community and it makes me happy as well,” she said.
“I started volunteering when I was three years old with my mum at a soup kitchen.
“I’m very proud to be an example for my little sister.”
Tia’s mum Clarissa Brennen said she was “extremely proud” of her daughter.
“My heart’s just overfilling,” she said.
“It’s a really good thing. She learns a lot from doing it and she comes away smiling, so that’s another thing I find is very gratifying.
“She always says her heart smiles when she volunteers.”
Chief executive of the Centre for Volunteering, Gemma Rygate congratulated Tia, saying she was a selfless example to others.
“Tia sees volunteering as an opportunity to help those less fortunate in the community,” Ms Rygate said.
“This award, presented by the Centre for Volunteering, is a way for the people of NSW to thank the volunteers, like Tia, who do so much to make our communities great.”