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Maggie Rishell - Teen wants to comfort youngsters

April 23, 2006|By Tiffany Arnold

SMITHSBURG - A fuzzy orange whale, which looked more like a comma or a blob, started everything six years ago, said Maggie Rishell, 13, of Smithsburg.

She and her family were involved in a minor car accident, and when the ambulance arrived, the medics gave her the stuffed animal.

"I had no idea it was supposed to be a whale," said Maggie, who was 7 years old when the accident occurred.

When they got home, Maggie looked at the whale and asked her mother, "You think they'll need more of these?"

Maggie is an avid stuffed animal collector. She had at least three shelves full in her room - and that's not counting the crowded clump of teddy bears lining the purple carpet in her room.

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That batch of stuffed animals would be the first of several to be bagged up and donated to Community Rescue Service, an emergency medical services provider. Maggie has been donating ever since.

Every couple of months, she rounds up animals. Her mother, Donna Rishell, said Maggie has given away at least 200 stuffed animals since she's started.

Her sister Carrie, 12, helps round up the stuffed animals. Sometimes, the girls get donated toys; other times they shop at yard sales to find good ones.

Chris Amos, chief of Community Rescue Service, said stuffed animals often are the only thing the medic has to help successfully work with children during an accident.

Maggie's stuffed animals don't get used that much, which Amos said was a good thing. It means "we just don't get that many pediatric calls," he said.

Amos said the company rounded up 10 bags full of stuffed animals that Maggie donated and gave them to hurricane victims.

"It's exceptional that a 7-year-old would think about other children," Amos said. "I can't imagine that would be something on the minds of most 7-year-olds."

Maggie, an eighth-grader at Grace Academy, is involved in other community service activities with her church and helps in the kitchen at the REACH shelter from time to time.

Q&A

Name - Maggie Rishell

Date of birth - Aug. 20, 1992

Address - Smithsburg

Occupation - Student

Most notable achievement: - Making All-County Chorus this year.

Your proudest moment - I guess giving the speech at my fifth-grade graduation. It felt good representing all my classmates.

Who is the person you most admire and why? - My parents, because they've always been so supportive.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? - My parents always told me to be myself.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - I want to teach music, so doing that.

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