VG Special Feature: Paying It Forward

What is “Snug as a Bug, Kids Helping Kids”?
I founded the charity Snug as a Bug, Kids Helping Kids when I was 11 because I was too young to work for any other organization.  I felt that if they wouldn’t allow me to volunteer elsewhere due to my age then I would create my own charity.  I chose children and teens in shelters for two reasons:  my mother and I were homeless and needed to use a shelter when I was 10 months old and because I had interviewed homeless people and was very moved by their stories.  The charity is extremely important to me because it enables me to let the children and teens staying in shelters know that strangers care enough about them to donate items that will bring them joy during difficult times.

What is your most memorable and heartfelt moment when donating to the kids in the shelter?
After a long year of collecting, a full day of packaging with the many wonderful volunteers, the Brinks trucks and their amazing drivers head out with me, my family and a handful of my former teachers to deliver the thousands of packages.  Seeing the faces of the staff and knowing I just completed another year is an unbelievable feeling.  When I was 11 many people didn’t take me seriously and I was told that I was ‘in over my head” and “no one is going to listen to a kid” I was not in over my head and they did listen.  Many said ‘no’ but some said ‘yes’. I am proof that anyone can follow their dream as long as their passion is strong enough to carry them over the many bumps along the way.  My biggest reward is knowing the comfort my charity is bringing to others while learning that I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it!

How involved is your school with Snug as a Bug?

My school has been amazing and instrumental in the success of my charity.  In grade 9, my geography teacher, Mr Struthers, phoned my mom to discuss my marks and asked what I did for fun.  He was surprised to learn about my charity because I didn’t tell anyone at my high school. It didn’t take long for the word to spread. My science teacher, Mr. Fielder, nominated me for the Youth in Motion Top 20 Under 20.  I was honoured to be nominated and ecstatic when I won! The experience further launched my charity to a whole new level. New companies and media took an interest and wanted to support me. Mr. Fielder, my hero, also helped me organize additional fundraisers which inspired other teachers and students to participate.

What IS YOUR future vision for your organization?
I can’t predict the future but as long as companies and individuals continue to donate, I would love to keep Snug as a Bug, Kids Helping Kids in motion. If you’re passionate enough about something then you’ll always find a way to accomplish your goals.

If you could have a lunch with Prime Minister Harper, what topics would you want to discuss?

  • ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: I would make it my mission to convince the school boards to make this a priority. It’s up to our generation to try to save the planet. I would lobby that this topic be a required subject from grade 1-12.
  • ANIMAL CRUELTY: Convince the government to change the animal cruelty laws and enforce severe punishment to those who abuse animals.
  • INTERNATIONAL AID: Go back to Nicaragua. In May 2009, I lived with a family and helped the locals – especially the children in extreme impoverished communities. I want to become a doctor and would like to return to donate medical assistance to those who can’t afford it.