A young Red Deerian is striving to make a difference in the lives of Canada’s veterans.
Nine-year-old Conner Pedwell didn’t ask for presents to celebrate his birthday. Instead, the generous youngster asked his family and friends to donate to the Veterans Emergency Transition Services (VETS) Canada, which is a national charity helping veterans who are in crisis, at risk of becoming homeless or who are homeless.
“I have more stuff and I think that everybody should have the same amount of things,” said Conner during his birthday party last Saturday.
This isn’t the first time Conner, whose family comes from a military background, has given to those in need.
“When Fort McMurray was going on I donated my money to there and my sister last year, she donated her money to Julietta’s Place — it’s nice to donate,” he said, adding to him there aren’t many better feelings than helping someone in need. “I have a good feeling about it.”
Conner’s mother, Tannis Cassin explained that Conner originally got the idea after receiving some money from his grandfather around the time of the fires.
“He said it was because people needed the money more than he does and he didn’t really need it,” she said.
So, when Conner told her what he wanted to do for his birthday this year, she was blown away.
“I was so proud of him. It was one of those moments as a parent where you’re like I’m raising a nice person. I’m so proud of him for that,” she said, adding that Conner said he believes that everyone should have equal footing.
“He said he wants everyone in the world to be treated the same, and so people who need things should get them from people who have those things and can afford them. He wants to make sure the veterans have everything they need.”
VETS Canada Co-Founder and Chair Debbie Lowther said Conner’s generosity is encouraging.
“We were just so touched when Tannis informed us about Conner’s plans to donate his money to VETS Canada,” said Lowther. “Conner’s altruism is proof that each of us, even those of a younger generation, can play a part in supporting our nation’s heroes to get back on their feet. Conner’s thoughtfulness means a great deal to us, to our volunteers and to the veterans we serve.”
When asked whether he thinks he’ll donate again in the future, Conner was pretty sure of his answer.
“Yep, I’m gonna do it,” he smiled.
VETS Canada was originally started in 2010 by Jim Lowther, a veteran, as a way to help those veterans who had slipped through the cracks and who had not made a successful transition into civilian life.
In 2014, the organization became approved Veterans Affairs Service Providers in the field of homeless and in crisis veteran outreach.