A Heart Ahead of its Years
Putting in 1,000 hours of volunteer work may be 25 times the required amount for most high school students, but for 14-year-old Harnoor Gill, offering a helping hand is a pleasure. With a lengthy charity record ranging from environmental causes to welcoming young immigrants to Canada, this young activist from Georgetown, Ont. has gathered a collection of experience and wisdom that exceeds his years. “Sometimes it can be hard,” he explains, “but I have my parents to support me. I believe volunteering is just a good thing to do, just reaching out to others.”
Though he has a heart for all different forms of charity, Gill is particularly passionate about the environment. He is actively involved in P.O.W.E.R. (Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources), a not-for-profit environmental protection organization. During the 2011 Diwali Festival, he shared his earth-loving ideas through a collection of articles, inspiring others to think innovatively for the sake of our planet’s health.
All this extracurricular commitment means an overload of work for this teen. When asked what energizes his philanthropic spirit, Gill says he hopes to motivate other young people to get involved, too. “My overall message to youth is that age is not a barrier,” he says. As a volunteer who began his journey at the age of three, selling cookies door-to-door in his native Hong Kong town, Gill has certainly become an inspiration not only for youth, but for all ages.
In spite of his contributions to his community, Gill claims that giving back is not about extremities — it’s the little actions that matter most. He explains that during his Jean Green Drive in 2010, he handed a homeless person a simple pair of jeans and the gratification he received left him speechless. “He was really happy,” he reminisces. “His whole life had been a big dark black hole and it just brightened up by this one little light, which motivated him. And now he’s successful in life. That person used to be homeless.”
Gill’s giving spirit has earned him multiple recognitions across Canada, including the Citizen (Youth) Award from Conservation Halton, the Young Conservationist Award from the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, the Community Volunteer Award from Community Development, and this year, he was picked as one of Canada’s Top 15 Under 15.
But Gill doesn’t plan on letting these prestigious recognitions get to his head. He hopes that one day his caring nature spills over into his professional goals by exercising his love for the environment. These goals provide a bright and promising future, but for now, Gill is focused on sharing his compassion with others.