WALLACE BAY – The future is looking bright for Jenna Cottrill.
The 17-year-old Wallace Bay girl was named one of five finalists for the Canada’s Top Teen Philanthropist award through Mackenzie Investments for her work with God’s Littlest Angel’s Canada.
“Right after the earthquake in Haiti (three years ago), it upset me and I really wanted to be able to do something,” said Cottrill, a Grade 12 student at Pugwash District High School. “I always do want to do something but this time I got motivated.”
The teen came across God’s Littlest Angels Canada, which is dedicated to providing intensive nursery care for premature, malnourished and abandoned children in Haiti.
“Because there was something I could do right away, I got involved.”
And Cottrill hasn’t looked back.
With the help of her mother, Cottrill went to businesses, churches and individuals in her surrounding communities looking for donations on a wish list for the organization’s orphanage in Haiti.
“At the time, they were shipping containers of supplies down to Haiti, so we got together with a group of people from New Glasgow and Halifax to put a container together and send down,” she said. “We collected things like diapers and clothing, shampoo and toothpaste, things like that. The orphanage was going to keep some for itself but also hand some out in the community.”
But sending the container wasn’t enough for Cottrill, who has been collecting drawings from children at the orphanage to make into cards.
“In total, I think we’ve made about $1,500 in profit from the cards,” she said, noting all the money goes back to the orphanage. “The pictures are things like flowers, ice cream and apples. It’s funny because a lot of the pictures are things the children wouldn’t necessarily see there. I think one drew a snowman.”
Her work with the organization, however, doesn’t stop there.
Cottrill’s mother travelled to Haiti to volunteer some time and that experience inspired the teen to do the same the past two Novembers.
“My first trip there was with my mom and two other friends from here. We were a team and we went to a clinic (Real Hope for Haiti in Cazale) that is owned by friends of the people that run the orphanage. We cleaned out incubators that were stored away, we played with the children, we painted … little things they needed help with.”
It was Cottrill’s second two-week trip to the orphanage an hour outside of Port-au-Prince, however, she enjoyed it the most.
“I was more familiar with the area and the orphanage the second time. I volunteered at the orphanage with the children. I had seven kids under the age of three and from 9 to 5 every day, I would play with them. I would spend an hour with each child, playing with them one-on-one.”
While Cottrill has aspirations of going into advertising and working first with a non-profit organization, she hopes to continue visiting the country with a population of more than 10 million.
“I plan on going to (post-secondary) school, and I know I’m supposed to be in school, but I’m hoping to go again,” she said, adding her goal later in life is to have her own non-profit organization.
By being named a finalist for Canada’s Top Teen Philanthropist, Cottrill will receive $500, as well as $500 for the charity of her choice. This was the fifth year for the contest, which recognizes the top teen in the country who has made the biggest difference with their charitable work.
For more information on the clinic Real Hope for Haiti, visit www.realhopeforhaiti.org, and for the cards Cottrill has been making, visit godslittlestanglesstore.com.