The Saline Courier Weekend

Teen founds domestic violence help initiative

- By Dana Guthrie dguthrie@bentoncour­ier.com

A Benton teen is once again making headlines for reaching out to help others.

After winning a contest earlier this year hosted by Sonic Drive-in and Instagram, Benton High School graduate Ryan Taneja ended up with the national title of prom

“Quaranking” and $25,000 towards his dream car. Now, Taneja is reaching out to a group of people desperatel­y in need - victims of domestic violence.

Taneja has created “The Mini Taneja Purple Initiative” which is dedicated to raising money for domestic

violence victims. Named for his mother, Mini, who he calls the very definition of strength, Tanjea uses the initiative to raise funds for Saline County Safe Haven.

“There are so many ways she has shown me that we can give back,” Taneja said. “Different ways you’d never think of.”

Taneja’s mother Mini is extremely proud of her son and honored that he named his initiative after her.

“I feel so great,” Mini said. “I feel wonderful. I can’t express how wonderful I feel about my son.”

There are two ways to donate to the initiative.

The first is by purchasing custom Spotify art through Taneja’s Etsy store. Available items include keychains, magnets and frames.

The second is what excites Taneja the most partnershi­p with businesses around Saline County.

In one of the first collaborat­ions of it’s kind in the area, on Aug. 14, a portion of all sales at Just Ice Cream, located in historic downtown Benton, will be donated to Safe Haven through the MTP Initiative.

Tanjea is hoping to get more businesses in the county involved with special shopping days such as the one with Just Ice Cream. He has also received donations from La Hacienda and Rina’s Kitchen.

Taneja provides frames for the businesses who partner with the initiative or make a donation that they can use to show they are a sponsor of the initiative.

“We will take any donation,” Taneja said. “It doesn’t even have to be a lot.”

Taneja added that he has prayerfull­y considered the initiative and believes that he is doing God’s will by creating an initiative that will help local victims of domestic violence. He also hopes that by giving people a chance to participat­e in something positive, it will help bring some joy to what has been a year of hardship for many people.

“You see how divided we are politicall­y and how isolated people are right now,” Taneja said.

He believes that by giving people an outlet to help other people, they will also be helping themselves.

“I am trying to do something positive and leave an impact,” Taneja said.

After winning the contest earlier this year, Taneja said he felt a responsibi­lity to give back and “to be a shining light in a dark time.”

While he knows that he might not be able to find a business every month willing to partner with him, but he will keep the initiative going.

“It’s my way of giving back because y’all gave me so much … I did this not just out of respect for my mom, but for Benton and Saline County as a whole. There is something special about our community that I don’t think there will be anywhere able to replicate what goes on in our little town and in our county.”

 ?? Special to The Saline Courier ?? Ryan Taneja, right, and his mother Mini, pose outside of Benton High School to celebrate his graduation. Taneja has created “The Mini Taneja Purple Initiative” to raise money for victims of domestic violence.
Special to The Saline Courier Ryan Taneja, right, and his mother Mini, pose outside of Benton High School to celebrate his graduation. Taneja has created “The Mini Taneja Purple Initiative” to raise money for victims of domestic violence.
 ?? Special to The Saline Courier ?? Taneja named the initiative after his mother, Mini, and has also created a logo for the initiative modeled after his mother and the famous Rosie the Riveter.
Special to The Saline Courier Taneja named the initiative after his mother, Mini, and has also created a logo for the initiative modeled after his mother and the famous Rosie the Riveter.

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