Photography by David Wile Image by: Photography by David Wile
Where she's from: Lakefield, Ont.
Award: Youth In Action Award, 12 and under
Contribution: When she was just nine years old, Faith Dickinson created Cuddles for Cancer. Now, the 12-year-old fundraises throughout the year and uses the proceeds to buy fleece to make blankets, which she donates to cancer patients. She is also an ambassador for the Just BeYOUtiful campaign, promoting inner beauty, antibullying, confidence and a better world.
When was the first time you saw an issue and thought, I need to do something about this?
When I was nine, my Aunt Lyndi was diagnosed with breast cancer. My mom and I make fleece tie blankets for birthday and Christmas gifts, so I made my Aunt Lyndi one, and she said it was really nice because she got cold during her chemotherapy treatments. Shortly after that, I came up with Cuddles for Cancer to make blankets for other cancer patients. Since then, I've become more aware of local and global social-justice issues. I truly believe "everyone deserves a cuddle," so I now make my blankets for anyone who needs a cuddle. I've made almost 1,500 blankets so far. I also have a signature soldier blanket for Canadian soldiers and veterans. I have sent them all across Canada, Afghanistan and Kuwait, but I love to visit legions, Sunnybrook [Health Sciences Centre] and the Trenton airbase.
Do you have a mentor, someone who inspired you to become a volunteer?
My mentor is my mom because she always helps me with everything I do. She volunteers in the community, she sponsors two children every month through [World Vision and Christian Children's Fund of Canada] and she travels on mission trips with our church to build homes in places like Mexico, Jamaica and Guatemala.
What has been your greatest challenge so far?
Visiting Toronto's SickKids hospital. It is really hard to see all the sick children, knowing some won't live. When we deliver the blankets, we make a connection after they share their stories with us.
What are your interests outside of volunteering?
I love to dance, play sports and act. I play volleyball, soccer, baseball and basketball. I am a dance teacher in my hometown, and I love working with the kids I teach. I have been in several plays, music videos, a TV show and a feature film. Because I've been onstage since I was three, I'm never nervous making speeches in front of hundreds of people or pitching ideas for my causes.
Can you imagine what your life would be like without volunteering?
No, it's such a big part of my life; I would never be able to let it go. It makes my heart happy.
Meet our 2015 Me to We Award winners for more inspirational stories like Faith's.
This story was originally part of "Everyday Heroes" in the October 2015 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!