The 2nd annual Canada’s Top Teen Philanthropist search, created by financial company Mackenzie Investments, has awarded Sophia Gran-Ruaz with a $5,000 donation to the charity of her choice and $1000 for her post-secondary education. The 17-year-old student at John Cabot Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, founded Snug As A Bug, Kids Helping Kids six years ago to create care packages for children entering shelters.
“That’s probably the most difficult time for them,” Gran-Ruaz tells Samaritanmag. “Most of them come just with the clothes on their backs because they are fleeing with their mothers because of abusive relationships and things like that. The care packages are all gender and age appropriate and are filled with books, stuff animals, playing cards, puzzles, magazines.”
The Mississauga, Ontario resident created Snug As A Bug after writing a speech about homelessness for school. Accompanied by her father, she went downtown to speak first-hand with people living on the street. “It was an amazing experience, especially being so young. You certainly have stereotypes of what a homeless person is so hearing their stories really broke that stereotype for me,” she says.
Too young to volunteer at most other charities, the enterprising 11-year-old gathered 500 care packages for babies to age 16 and sent them to Interim Place North and South. The second year approximately 1300 care packages were sent to Interim Place North and South, and The Salvation Army Honeychurch Family Resource Centre. The third year over 2300 care packages were created and sent to the previous two shelters, plus VCWRS Women’s Resource Center. And so on, with more packages and more recipients added each year. To date, Snug A Bug has distributed more than 10,000 packages.