GRANITE CITY, Ill. (KMOX) – A fourth-grader from eastern Madison County is known across the U.S. for her crafty support of first-responders.

Arianna Nichols, 8, makes colorful, six-beaded crosses for police officers and firefighters to carry while on-duty as a form of peace and protection.

Arianna received a “Making a Difference Award” Wednesday in Granite City from Brian Kava, president of Texas-based Mosaic Sales Solutions.

“Through your bead crosses, you bring awareness and comfort, and make their jobs easier,” Kava said. “You are an inspiration, and the world is better with you in it.”

Madison County Sheriff’s Sgt. Andrew Friederich was one of the first to meet Arianna and get a cross, several years ago.

“To know that members of the community are behind us – especially a special little girl – it’s wonderful,” he says. “I carry it with me every single day.”

Arianna says she hopes her cross mission serves as an example for other youths.

“Just follow your dreams,” she says. “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

To date, Arianna has given out more than 29,000 pocket crosses to first-responders.

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