A year into the pandemic, 10-year-old Jonathan Yeung has no plans to stop delivering snacks to the front-line workers at his local West Vancouver hospital.
These “missions,” as he calls them, are the latest in a string of donations spearheaded by a preteen philanthropist who has leveraged his family’s personal and professional network to give thousands of dollars and other gifts to local charities over the past four years.
His current mission helps refuel hospital staff often stuck on their feet and stranded in their own ward for their full shift. Since the first disorienting wave of the pandemic hit last March, Jonathan, who is known to many by his family nickname, “Bear,” has co-ordinated several big drops of healthy snacks and electrolyte drinks with the help of his parents. He is also involved with a continuing drive at his elementary school for more such donations.
“I know everyone is very panicked and tired during this pandemic, but we just have to keep on fighting through this,” he said in a recent phone interview.
Yolanda Brooks, a spokesperson for the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation, said the supplies Jonathan and his family drop off are put into baskets that are then dispersed across the hospital for staff to partake whenever they need. Before the pandemic, Jonathan also raised money to donate hockey jerseys to kids in the hospital’s pediatrics unit to help buoy their spirits, Ms. Brooks said.
“People like to see that kids and young people are engaged in their community,” Ms. Brooks said. “The fact that they’re thinking about others, and what they can do [to help], is why people are moved by Jonathan’s actions.”
Last summer, he teamed up with an 18-year-old from neighbouring North Vancouver to donate 159 tablet computers and more than a thousand toys to dozens of kids cut off from the world while staying at BC Children’s Hospital. Jonathan has frequently received support from the Porsche Club of America’s Canada West branch as well as several large corporations, partnerships his father Kevin Yeung says are a testament to the perseverance his son has learned playing tennis and hockey and skiing competitively.
Mr. Yeung, a former investment banker who now helps fund startup companies, says Jonathan is constantly cold-calling firms for his missions and if “the King of Zoom” can get a representative on a video call, they soon understand his drive and often agree to donate in some way.
Over the past year, Jonathan has been lauded on social media by crowdfunding company GoFundMe and profiled in numerous media outlets for his generosity. Mr. Yeung, who campaigned to bring meals to Hong Kong’s poorest residents before his family moved to B.C. in 2016, says his son isn’t on social media and hasn’t let all the media attention go to his head.
But he does appreciate the thank-you notes from political leaders who have taken notice of his charitable work, Mr. Yeung says. At the top of that list, Mr. Yeung adds, is when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached out in 2017 after Jonathan first made the local newspaper for helping to raise money for a single mom battling cancer while relocating to her hometown.
“The hard work put forth by you made a direct impact on many people this holiday season, for which you deserve great praise,” reads the signed Dec. 11, 2017, note from the Prime Minister.
Still, Jonathan says it isn’t the recognition, but rather helping to serve his community, that truly matters.
“The feeling that I get when I know I’ve done something good or made a difference in somebody else’s life is the best feeling in the world.”
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