Fourteen-year-old Briana MacLeod is my new role model. Five years ago, she started her own charity called Kids Helping Kids. It raises money – you guessed it – from kids, for kids, and has raised over $60, 000 since its inception.
When I first thought to interview MacLeod, I was intrigued by her cause and her determination, but a bit wary of speaking with this teenage philanthropist who makes me so aware of my own uselessness in society at large.
Kids Helping Kids first started when, at the age of nine, MacLeod decided that instead of Christmas or birthday presents that year, she wanted her friends and family to make donations to charity.
“I wanted to help in a big way. It wasn’t enough to just give change to the homeless,” she said. “The fact that I was giving away my presents affected me, and that made me feel like I was helping more.”
Since then, Kids Helping Kids events have grown from smaller fundraisers like raffles and garage sales to their annual Lights Out party, coming up in May. Lights Out is described as an “exclusive dance party” for grades nine to 11 and is usually held in one of the city’s hottest nightclubs. Last year’s was an astounding success, and raised $20,000 for charity.
The money raised through Kids Helping Kids goes to various children’s charities. Though when Macleod first started Kids Helping Kids, most of the money raised went to international charities, it is now more locally dispersed, with 60 per cent going to Montreal-based charities and 40 per cent going to national and international ones.
“When I started this I was just a kid. All I could think about was those starving kids in Africa and how much I wanted to help them. But now that I’m growing up, I’ve been doing a lot of research about child poverty right here in Montreal. [As a result] I’ve been focussing a lot more on local charities and helping the kids here,” MacLeod said.
This year’s Lights Out party is raising money for Dans La Rue, an organization that helps the homeless in Montreal.
Though, to me, MacLeod seems like a one-girl dynamo that does it all, she kept emphasizing how supportive and helpful her peers have been. The charity really is about kids reaching out to help other kids.
“There are so many kids out there who want to do something, and people really underestimate how much kids can do,” MacLeod said. “It’s all of them who make Kids Helping Kids what it is today.”
For more information about Kids Helping Kids, to make a donation, or to get involved, visit kidshelpingkids.ca.