Hannah Taylor was five years old when she decided to help the homeless and start The Ladybug Foundation.
Taylor, a 21-year-old McGill political science student, joined Global’s Kim Sullivan to talk about the foundation which helped her gain recognition in Canada and the U.S.
During a freezing cold December car ride through a back alley in Winnipeg with her mother, Taylor saw a homeless man searching for food in a garbage dumpster.
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As a small child would, Taylor questioned the situation and her mother explained that he was down on his luck, he had to do that to eat.
“I think everybody has a moment that hits them in the heart or the gut, and for me this was it,” said Taylor about trying to understand a dire situation at such a young age, a question that would snowball into a lifetime of philanthropy.
“One night while I was being tucked into bed, my mom said to me, ‘You know Hannah, maybe if you do something about it your heart won’t feel so sad.'”
The next day, Taylor approached her Grade 1 teacher with the idea of talking about homelessness and if they could do anything to help — the class started a fundraiser to support a local shelter.
Taylor kept the momentum by talking about the subject with others and by the time she was eight, The Lady Bug Foundation was registered as a charity.
“I figured that ladybugs were good luck, that we needed good luck to help the homeless and the homeless also needed good luck,” explained Taylor.
The Lady Bug Foundation has since raised over $4 million for the homeless, the hungry or people living in poverty in 65 different shelters across Canada.
When she was 10, the foundation launched Make Change an educational program that has reached over 11,000 classrooms around the world.
“It’s a program that can be taught from kindergarten to Grade 12,” said Taylor.
“It’s free, anybody with the internet can use it in their classroom, it teaches young people that they can make a difference no matter how young they are.”
In 2016, Taylor was awarded the Governor General of Canada Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division). A year later she was presented with the Spirituality Award from the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky.
“It was so special, just having the opportunity to hear the stories of my fellow recipients was incredibly special to be named among them,” said Taylor.
“Awards like that give us the opportunity to recommit ourselves to what we’re really passionate about.”
After all these years, Taylor remains committed to helping the less fortunate. She helps run the Winnipeg-based foundation remotely while completing her last semester at McGill.
The Ladybug Foundation’s next fundraiser is the annual Walk a Mile in Their Shoes on National Red Scarf Day which happens Jan. 31.