2012-08-02 at NOON
Nine-year-old Alex Atwill (left) presents disaster relief committee co-chairwoman Lynn Peterson with a cheque for $200, money he raised at his recent birthday party.
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Alex Atwill has plenty of toys.
He doesn’t need any more clothes.
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His bedroom is the same as it’s always been.
But the nine-year-old youngster knows that’s not the case with everyone in the city, after flooding and sewage back-ups on May 28 wiped out the basements and belongings of hundreds of people in Thunder Bay.
He wanted to help in some little way.
So, with his birthday rolling around, Alex and his father began chatting, and the grade-schooler decided to use his special day to make life better for others.
On the invitation to his party, Alex insisted his friends forego the traditional present and instead bring money as a gift, money he would then turn over to the city’s struggling disaster relief fund.
On Thursday he met with co-chairwoman Lynn Peterson, handing her a $200 cheque, which through provincial 2-for-1 matching funds, will result in $600 being added to the $804,000 kitty, less than a fifth of the $5 million they hope to collect by year’s end.
“I wanted to help Thunder Bay,” Alex said shyly, a tad overwhelmed at his first media scrum, held in the McNaughton Room at city hall.
“I want them to get a lot of stuff, like us.”
Alex said his friends jumped at the opportunity to help out.
“They were happy and they wanted to do it to,” he said.
Mother Monica Atwill couldn’t be more proud of her son, saying she had tears in her eyes when notified the committee wanted to recognize Alex’s efforts.
“It’s just very heartwarming,” she said, adding she wasn’t really that surprised her son would undertake a micro-fundraising campaign to help flood victims restore their lives.
“He’s got a big heart and he’s very generous with his toys and sharing. I wasn’t surprised. I was happy and grateful, but it didn’t shock me,” Monica said.
Peterson said it’s a shining example of how everyone can help out in their own little way, calling it an enormous, generous act.
“Why we wanted to have Alex here today is to let the community know that every penny that can be raised in any way that you possibly can is absolutely appreciated and absolutely needed,” Peterson said.
“It’s heartwarming. There are so many people in the community who are asking how they can help. Well, it doesn’t have to be something huge. Do something that is with your neighbourhood, with your friends.”
Peterson also mentioned a planned neighbourhood-building campaign expected to be launched in the fall.
“But you don’t have to wait until then,” she said.
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