For Greene County News
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE – For 14-year-old Holly Thill, winning a $2,000 prize for academic excellence proves good grades can pay off. And, the eighth-grader plans to use her winnings to pay it forward in Dayton.
Thill, a home-schooled eighth-grader from Beavercreek, earned the $2,000 grand prize in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s worldwide You Made the Grade sweepstakes. Thill, the daughter of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Lt. Col. Joseph Thill and Bridget Thill, received her $2,000 Exchange gift card Feb. 5 during a presentation at the Wright-Patterson Exchange.
With part of her winnings, Thill plans to buy blankets and coats to distribute to the homeless in Ohio through her church, Emmanuel Catholic Church, in Dayton
“I want to help those who are homeless,” she said. “So many of the homeless are veterans — I want to give back to those who have served in the military.”
The military holds a special place in Thill’s heart; she and her six younger siblings have grown up in a military family. Her father, who will retire at Wright-Patterson later this year, has served in the Air Force for 22 years. Lt. Col. Thill is the deputy director at the Air Force Research Laboratory, where he works on advanced technologies for various Air Force missions. Her mother served in the Air Force for nine years as well.
“The Exchange is excited to reward Holly for her dedication to her schoolwork,” said Wright-Patterson Exchange Store Manager Christy Beenenga, who presented the Exchange gift card to Holly. “The fact that she wants to donate part of her winnings to charity is amazing — it’s refreshing to see someone so young understand the importance of looking out for those who need help the most.”
Thill’s mother is proud of her academic achievements and willingness to put others first.
“I am happy that Holly wants to bless those in need with what she has been given,” Bridget Thill said. “We are proud of her for putting ‘love of neighbor’ into action.”
Thill receives mostly As on her report cards, although she keeps busy with after-school activities. She plays soccer and basketball and figure skates as well. She also enjoys playing piano, something she’s done since she was 6 years old.
Thill’s favorite subject is science, and advises other military students to stay persistent to achieve their academic goals.
“Keep working hard,” said Thill, who plans to attend college one day. “You’re going to hit rough spots, but try hard and know your limits.”
Through the Exchange’s You Made the Grade program, first through 12th-graders with a B average or higher are eligible to receive a coupon book filled with Exchange discounts and a sweepstakes entry form for a shot at a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 prize. The program is intended to reward military students who excel in the classroom. Those who enter must be dependents of authorized Exchange shoppers.