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P.E.I.'s Peyton Peters said she learned from a very young age about the power of giving.
Instead of the usual presents, the 10-year-old Grade 5 student at Eliot River Elementary School decided on her sixth birthday to ask family and friends to give her money so she could donate it to charity.
“I want people to know that one person can make a difference,’’ Peyton told The Guardian.
“I started learning that people needed things more than I did, so I started donating all of my birthday money I got to different charities. And, once I started I didn’t want to stop. It makes me feel really good. I really like it. I like seeing the smiles on people’s faces.’’
On her sixth and seventh birthdays, invitees brought along a bag of food for the food bank. That was followed by donations to the Children’s Wish Foundation (now Make-A-Wish) and the P.E.I. Humane Society.
This year, Peyton pulled in $250 on her 10th birthday in February, and after meeting Betty Begg-Brooks, who runs Gifts From The Heart, she decided to give it to the non-profit organization.
“I want people to know that one person can make a difference.’’
- Peyton Peters
Located on Spring Lane in Charlottetown, it is devoted to helping low-income Islanders.
Begg-Brooks, who was smitten with the youngster, suggested that rather than donate the money that Peyton and her mother, Brianne, should go out and spend it on items Gifts From The Heart needed the most — things like small turkeys and hams.
So, they went out and bought six chickens, two small turkeys, four medium-sized turkeys and four hams.
“Not all seniors can lift the (big) turkeys,’’ Peyton said.
The youngster had $45 left and decided to spend it on hats, mittens and gloves for Brooks’ organization.
“Peyton is such an example to the young children,’’ Begg-Brooks said.
“Peyton has a very giving heart. She’s really a great kid.’’
Begg-Brooks said most people who like to donate turkeys to charities at this time of year tend to always buy the biggest one they can find. However, she said there are also people in need who are single that could use something smaller.
“I work with so many seniors. They like a nice (small) chicken or a ham. That way, it's not thrown in the garbage. They can cut off a slice of ham and have a sandwich (for example).’’
It doesn’t stop there for Peyton. She is also part of her school’s Cool Kids Care Club, which sells ice cream sandwiches and super frosties each month and donates the proceeds to a charity. They always vote on the charity they want to donate to, but following the November fundraiser, Peyton suggested Gifts From The Heart and everyone was in agreement. They raised $300. On top of that, there was an item drive where all kids in the school brought in stuff from home. It amounted to three carloads of items, on top of that $300.
“Peyton exemplifies what the Eliot River Cool Kinds Care Club is all about,’’ said Angela Arsenault, a teacher/librarian at the school who helps co-ordinate the program, noting that they also asked Begg-Brooks to come in and make a presentation.
“This was an inspirational presentation as the students learned so much about Islanders who are living in poverty.’’
Arsenault and Allyson McCarron, who also helps run the program, took five students, including Peyton, on a search for items Brooks needed. Within two days, they had three carloads full of items.
“Betty was thrilled,’’ Arsenault said.
“This was an incredible learning experience for us all.’’
Brianne Peters said the importance of giving was part of her upbringing and felt it was important for Peyton to understand.
“I am so proud (of Peyton),’’ Peters said, pausing to stress each word.
“It was something that has always been close to my heart. I’ve been very humbled with the experiences I’ve had in my work ... I’ve seen people in various unfortunate circumstances ... people that have absolutely nothing.’’
Peters added that with each donation, the organization has shown the youngster how she has helped. Children’s Wish, for example, gave her a tour of the offices.
“The more she sees the impact the more she knows what she is doing is a good thing.’’
Peyton said her dream is to run her own charity someday. She already has a binder full of ideas.
Need to know
- Peyton Peters, 10, has been donating her birthday money to charity since she was 6
- Past recipients have included the food bank, Children’s Wish Foundation and P.E.I. Humane Society
- This year she pulled in $250 and decided to give it to the Charlottetown non-profit Gifts From the Heart
- Peyton is also a member of her school’s Cool Kids Care Club, which holds a fundraiser each November for a charity
- This year the club accepted Peyton’s suggestion to give to Gifts From the Heart, raising $300