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Youth recognized for 'good work' with philanthropy award

Cailan Punnewaert awarded at Collingwood library; Helping others 'gives me good feelings and a happy heart that carries me through hard times,' winner says
2019-11-15 Youth JO-001
From left to right are Jeanette Heywood, president of AFP Central Ontario, Cailan Punnewaert and Melissa Stephens, senior community investment manager with TELUS. Jessica Owen/CollingwoodToday

Helping others makes a recent award recipient’s heart happy.

The second annual National Philanthropy Day was celebrated by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) at the Collingwood Public Library on Wednesday, with the TELUS Youth in Philanthropy Award being presented to 12-year-old Cailan Punnewaert, a Port Carling youth who has made a major difference in her community and beyond.

“I really like to help people and it’s honestly not for a thank you or any kind of recognition,” said Punnewaert. “I help because people have helped me. It gives me good feelings and a happy heart that carries me through hard times. I meet great people, and I go to great places I wouldn’t go to otherwise. Thank you for this award.”

Punnewaert’s contributions to her community include running a Kids Who Care car wash raising $3,500 for the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation to support the purchase of an infant warmer for the hospital and her work with the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

She also has run fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Society and YMCA in Bracebridge and Huntsville, and when floodwater caused a state of emergency in Bracebridge, she filled sandbags and served meals to military troops working to provide relief.

In the future, Punnewaert has planned a wilderness expedition in summer of 2020 to raise awareness and money for the sanctuary. Her Facebook and Instagram accounts “Explore with Muskoka Girl” also encourage others to get involved in their communities.

This year marked the first time the event was held in Collingwood.

“AFP of Central Ontario is a very geographically large chapter, so we are trying to get our butts out of Barrie and into where other members we have are actually doing their good work,” said Jeanette Heywood, president of AFP Central Ontario.

Last year’s recipient of the award was Zach Hofer, a youth from Barrie who started the Zach Makes Tracks initiative.

For more information on AFP, click here.

Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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