TORONTO -- Canada's youngest anti-poverty crusader
touched the hearts and pocketbooks of some of the country's top
business leaders Wednesday with a simple but poignant message:
Everybody should have a home.
Trailing her prop-filled ladybug bag on wheels, 10-year-old Hannah
Taylor's blonde pigtails bounced back and forth as she made her way
to the podium at Toronto's posh Royal York Hotel, where she told a
Bay Street audience that homeless people aren't any different than
Taylor, who hails from Winnipeg, is on a cross-Canada speaking tour
with stops in Calgary and Edmonton to deliver the message that love
and kindness is the best gift anybody can give.
"You can help homeless people in a lot of ways: You can share what
you have by donating food and clothing and some of your money,"
"Mostly what you can do is be nice to them. If they're cold, share
your mitts; if they're sad, say hi to them and give them a hug; if
they're hungry, lend them a sandwich and just love them like family.
They need that most of all."
The charming and articulate Taylor began her campaign five years ago
after she noticed a homeless person eating out of a garbage can.
Through her Ladybug Foundation charity, she has helped raise more
than $1 million through a variety of creative campaigns, including
Big Boss Breakfast events in which she invites business leaders to
learn more about homelessness and her cause.
The Ladybug Foundation is also planning to launch a new Canadawide
education program in 2008 that will give students from Kindergarten
to Grade 12 the tools they need to make a difference in their
During her speech, Taylor entertained the crowd with stories about
everything from her summer holidays and favorite story books to the
homeless friends she's made along her journey, as well as meetings
with famed animal researcher Jane Goodall and former prime minister
She urged her wealthy guests to do what they can to feed, clothe and
put a roof over the heads of Canada's less fortunate.
"Every day, homeless people are brave and courageous and strong,"
she said. "Every day, they do what they can just to live 'til
Her pitch clearly moved many in the crowd who donned her red
scarves, purchased for $20 each, and filled her little hand-painted
ladybug canisters with loose change.
As a special thank-you for her dedication to the homeless cause, Tim
Godfrey, an investment advisor with event sponsor Richardson
Partners Financial , grabbed his guitar and serenaded the youngster
with a version of her own "Lady Bug Song."
"Hopefully today Hannah has taught us that if we can get past being
uncomfortable, we can see the faces of the homeless and understand
that they are people like you and me," said Richardson president and
CEO Sue Dabarno.
"Let's not be afraid of caring. Let's treat them with respect and
help make a difference in their lives."
Dabarno, who called Taylor an "inspiration" who "walks the talk,"
said funds raised at Wednesday's event would be put back into the
Toronto community through frontline organizations that support the
Taylor's philanthropic efforts have won her the distinction of being
the youngest person to receive Canada's Top 20 Under 20 award. She
was also recently nominated for the World Service Award - an honor
previously bestowed upon Mother Teresa and former first lady Nancy
Nov. 22 2006