Victoria’s Ethan Tue is in many ways an ordinary kid. The sixth-grader at Cedar Hill Middle School likes to read books from the Deep Dive Series, play the Sonic the Hedgehog video game and ride his bike with his dad.
He also wants to make the world a better place. Which is why his mom, Nicole White, seized a moment last fall to help her son do something extraordinary for the city’s homeless.
“He heard something about BlanketBC on the radio and wanted to help,” said White.
She contacted the non-profit society, which collects blankets for homeless shelters in the Vancouver area, and they helped connect Ethan to a local shelter.
“As a parent, you’ve got to jump on the moment because kids change their minds so quickly. It’s important to encourage them,” she said.
A blanket drive at Ethan’s school collected about 60 blankets, which he dropped off at the Cool Aid Society Rock Bay Landing shelter on Feb. 28 — his 12th birthday.
On Wednesday, Ethan was given the inaugural Blanketeer award for his efforts.
The award presentation, which took place at the Cool Aid Society headquarters, was a surprise. Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, Victoria police Chief Frank Elsner and Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton, as well as representatives from social agencies downtown, attended.
“I never thought this would be happening. It feels really good,” said Ethan, who would like to be a firefighter and an engineer when he grows up.
Ethan said the experience of helping others has changed him.
“I want to do this every year,” he said, adding when he now sees homeless people he wants to give them money from his allowance.
“A few times a year we get kids doing things like this,” said Don McTavish, manager of shelters for Cool Aid.
“It’s great for everyone, especially those that don’t get to be around kids.”
BlanketBC founder Greg Ould called Ethan a local hero and an inspiration to other children.
“He was the catalyst to get us over here,” said Ould, announcing BlanketBC would expand to Victoria and Nanaimo by helping to facilitate annual blanket drives for local shelters.
“I’m very proud of you,” he said to Ethan. “You truly represent warmth from the heart.”
BlanketBC began in 2005 when Ould asked a homeless man how he could help. The man said he could use a blanket.
“When I brought it to him, no words were exchanged, but I remember him being in awe that anybody paid attention to him,” Ould said.
That night, he bounced ideas for helping others off his son Ben, then two.
“Ever talk to a baby and it’s like you’re talking to yourself? I did that and said ‘BlanketBC’ and he smiled.”
BlanketBC stands for Blanket Beautiful Communities, which was established in that moment, with Ben named as a co-founder. The organization has since distributed more than 135,000 blankets to more than 50 shelters.