Pay It Forward: Arianna Nichols

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(KTVI) - You may remember last year, when we brought you the story of a little Illinois girl who makes crosses and sends them to first responders around the country.

This year, a local firefighter nominated her for our Pay It Forward award.

FOX 2’s Dan Gray looks at how she earned the honor.

The Collinsville assistant fire chief was so touched by the kindness of 8-year-old Arianna Nichols he wanted to show the appreciation from thousands of responders who carry her hand-made crosses. So he paid a surprise visit to her home in Madison County to present her with our Pay It Forward award

The little girl with a big heart was amazed with the award.

Arianna began making plastic beaded crosses in September, and with the help of her mom Laura, who irons the plastic beads to mold them together, she has sent nearly 8,000 crosses to police and fire departments in 43 states and to Australia.

A letter from Arianna goes with each package to emergency personnel.

Some police officers keep the cross close to their heart in their Kevlar vest while on duty.

Congratulations to Arianna Nichols.

Tonight's Pay It Forward is brought to you by First Bank. If you would like to nominate a deserving person for the award go to and look for the Pay It Forward page.