Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Grade 5 student raising money for wounded soldiers

THANKASOLDIER : Why did you start Pennies For Patriotism and why pennies?
Autumn : I chose Pennies for Patriotism because its my way to give back to our Canadian Soldiers. Because of them I have my Freedom and Protection I don't have to live my life in fear!! I have FREEDOM.. These brave Men and Women Fight for me so I fight for them....2. I chose Pennies because what to people do with them... They throw them away or toss them aside and that's what seems to happen.. We always remember the Fallen but never the ones that get injured in action just like the penny... But I'm making the lowest form of cents to make it worth it!

THANKASOLDIER: where would you like to see your money raised from this go?
Autumn : I want to buy prosthetic limbs and wheel chairs for our returning Canadian Soldier that are injured in action...

THANKASOLDIER : If you could send a message to serving soldiers what would it be?
AUTUMN I want my Canadian Soldiers to know that I'm proud of them for what they are doing and I know its hard to be away from their Family and friends to protect our country and to help those of others. I wear my home land colours of red and white and hold my Countries Flag high for the world to see that I am Canadian and proud of it!! I may be only 10 but I know what your doing is very brave... "They fight for me, so I fight for them!....6 donation can be made at any Canada trust bank #0083-5209455 any small amount will do... I just want people to know that I want to try to change the world a little bit at a time and this is my foot print so please follow me and walk with me... Show your support


Autumn Hagyard has rolled in a season of change across the world.

The nine-year-old Simcoe girl has touched staff and students of Elgin Avenue Public School, the southwestern Ontario community of a deceased soldier and active troops in Afghanistan. And she has done it all with pennies -- the often valueless change that she hopes will change veterans' lives.

Now the Grade 5 student is earning recognition for her Pennies for Patriotism project on the national stage. She has been nominated for Canada's Champions of Change by her Grade 4 teacher Dave Wilson. He assigned the school project that she has now turned into a mission.

Autumn has collected $5,000 worth of pennies so far to purchase prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs for returning Canadian soldiers. Her hope is to visit a military hospital to visit with wounded soldiers and present a cheque to a needy vet by Christmas.

"The hard part is that I'm afraid to walk in and see thousands of soldiers and I don't want to disappoint any of them," she said.

Autumn has already lost a friend during the past year. She had been corresponding with Master Corporal Cliff Thompson and Master Corporal Adam Rymes who were preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan in May.

On April 14, Autumn received a care package of a dog tag and regimental coin from her new friends.

Thompson, however, would never make it over to Afghanistan.

"He was killed three days later," Autumn recalled.

The 25-year-old Petrolia resident died in a car accident. At his funeral, the 1st Hussars based in London collected a 20-litre jug and a crate of pennies. They delivered it to Autumn along with an award for her project.

Now his home community has also embraced the little girl's patriotic project. A handful of Sarnia businesses have been collecting for Autumn, explained her mother Tanya. Even the local public works department is interested in pitching in too.  Norfolk has also been generous to the project. Family and friends collected pennies from parade goers during the Friendship Festival. The public has even brought rolls of pennies off to her mother's workplace.

"We've had people drop off pennies on our doorstep in baggies," Tanya said.

Now the little girl has a chance to leave an even greater impact on soldiers. Becoming a Champion of Change could result in thousands of dollars to Autumn's cause. If she is in the top 10finalists, she could win up to $25,000 for Pennies for Patriotism.

Getting her message out about supporting veterans nationally, however, has already been enough for the young girl. She has always had a fascination for military.

"I used to love how people cared for the war," she said.

When Autumn brought home the nomination letter on the first day of school, it was icing on the cake.

"I was almost in tears," Tanya said. "Overwhelmed."

Autumn isn't ready to slow down on helping the soldiers soon. Along with Pennies for Patriotism, she has started Letters from Home, a campaign to mail Christmas letters and cards to deployed soldiers. She has already appealed to her school community to pen support to soldiers.

Autumn plans to mail all the letters and cards on Nov. 26 -- two days before her 10th birthday.

Donations are still being accepted for her project. Money can be deposited into the Pennies for Patriotism account at any TD Canada Trust bank.


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