11-year-old Windsor philanthropist earns leadership award

11-year-old Windsor philanthropist earns leadership award

Windsor's charitable group Maya's Friends has done a lot to make life a little bit sweeter for some of the region's poorest people. 

After years of raising thousands of dollars to help feed the hungry, the 11-year-old who founded and runs Maya's Friends is being recognized for her work.

The Lebanese Community of Bachir Gemayel will honour Maya Mikhael on Saturday by giving her a leadership award.

"It was surprising because I would never have expected I would get something that big," she said during an interview with Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette.

Mikhael has been handing out lemonade and accepting donations, which she then donates to charity, since she was seven. She said her desire to help others was inspired after she saw a man in Detroit rooting through the garbage for something to eat.

"I couldn't bear to see him suffering like that," she explained.

After her family bought the man a burger, she said his smile made her feel great and one of the region's youngest philanthropists was born.

Each summer a group of 28 friends gather at the Real Canadian Superstore on Walker Road every Friday and Saturday.

Mikhael estimates they've collected about $3,500 each season and the group has plans to launch a new project to help kids in hospice and at the Ronald McDonald House.

"Those kids don't really have anyone to talk to," she added. "It's hard for a kid to talk to an adult about how they feel."

Although only Mickhael will take the stage to accept an award this weekend, she would not have been able to accomplish so much without the help of her team.

"I couldn't have done anything without my friends," she said.