CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - How young is too young to make a difference? According to this month's Everyday Hero Jennifer Rubin, there is no age limit on doing good.
Rubin is a Southeast Missouri State University Police Academy Recruit who has her sights set on becoming a police officer.
"I just know it's what I want to do," said Rubin. "I want to be there for the community."
However, Rubin has already been "there" for the community for quite some time by serving and protecting the families of fallen first responders.
"Rockin' 4 Relief is a non-profit organization I started when I was 12," said Rubin. "We raise money for families of fallen police officers, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics killed in the line of duty."
Since age 12, Rubin has been raising money through an annual 10-hour long rocking chair drive that encourages passersby to donate.
Rubin's first Rockin' 4 Relief event in 2009 raised just $750. Every year, more and more people have joined her cause, and more and more money has come in.
"Since 2009 we've raised $133,000 including a $13,000 donation from Oprah Winfrey," said Rubin.
"I was using social media sending out messages saying 'I'm 15 and I've raised $12,000 for families of police and fire, mind retweeting? Sure enough, Oprah answered and said we'll match your $12,000 and give you an extra $1,000 to get you to $25,000. Three weeks later, a $13,000 check and a handwritten note from Oprah came in the mail."
Rubin says that was a definite high point, but Rockin' 4 Relief hasn't been all smiles. Rubin says there has been some heartache too.
In 2013, Rubin says Rockin' 4 Relief's mission hit close to home. Chesterfield Police Officer Joe Smith, a friend and a volunteer in her fundraising efforts passed away on the job.
"That set in that this can happen to anybody," said Rubin. "He had a heart attack in the line of duty. It made me that much more passionate about it."
"We all get into this job and we know things like that can happen at any time at any place," said Cape Girardeau Police Officer Anthony Vezeau. "It gives us peace of mind knowing that there's organizations like Rockin' 4 Relief that will provide for our families should the worst happen to us."
Knowing the dangers of the job, Rubin is training to one day wear the uniform. When she does, she says she will have one piece of advice for young people she encounters.
"If you can affect just one person's life you've done your job and you don't have to be a specific age to accomplish that," Rubin said.
This year's Rockin' 4 Relief will be held at 28 locations in the St. Louis area and Southeast Missouri on October 21.
If you'd like to learn how to volunteer to take part, there is a volunteer meeting at the Cape Girardeau Osage Center at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 25.
If you know someone worthy of being an Everyday Hero, just click here to make your nomination.
We'll profile an Everyday Hero each month on Heartland News and all of our heroes will be honored at the annual Red Cross recognition luncheon.