10-year-old P.E.I. girl raises $10K for charity with T-shirt design

A 10-year-old P.E.I. girl has already raised more than $10,000 for charity with her T-shirt designs. Now Lily Flanagan, from Stratford, has created a new design to help the PEI Humane Society.

Lily Flanagan is now using her #unstoppablelily to raise money to help animals

'I just like to draw and every time we'd do art in my class, I'd just be like doodling and stuff,' says Lily Flanagan from Stratford, P.E.I. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Lily Flanagan's love of doodling has turned her into a fundraising machine.

In the last two years, the 10-year-old Stratford, P.E.I., girl has raised more than $10,000 — and counting.

"I just like to draw and every time we'd do art in my class, I'd just be like doodling and stuff," she said.

Lily decided to raise money by selling T-shirts, printed with her own design of a heart.

"I just like to draw hearts. They're like really easy." 

I was determined to help them.—  Lily Flanagan

She came up with a hashtag that describes her outlook on life — #unstoppablelily — to complete the design.

"Well, it just means never give up and don't let anybody tell you to stop doing what you love."

Lily, wearing one of her heart-design shirts, addresses the audience at an Arbonne convention her mother was attending in Edmonton. (Submitted by Kate Flanagan)

Her mother, Kate Flanagan, loved the whole idea.

I thought it was sweet and simple and to the point and it's just the whole idea of giving back,"  Flanagan said.

"Just having her little hashtag on there to really show her desire to help. She was eight years old, so I was pretty proud." Flanagan said.

During her speech at a convention in Edmonton, Lily asked people in the crowd of almost 4,000 to stand if they were wearing one of her T-shirts. (Submitted by Kate Flanagan)

The next step was to pick a charity. Haiti, which had suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010, was hit hard again by a hurricane two years ago. Lily knew then where her money would go.

"When my mom talked about it with me, and told me that there was a big earthquake there, I was determined to help them." 

'These are my shirts' 

Not long afterward, the first batch of Lily's T-shirts arrived on her doorstep. 

"I was really happy," Lily said. "When the box came in, I was like, 'These are my shirts' and I was pretty excited."

During her speech in Edmonton, Lily spoke about overcoming obstacles, including breaking her foot during a gymnastic routine, being in a cast all summer and then making a comeback. (Submitted by Kate Flanagan)

Lily didn't have high hopes of raising a lot of money on her first try. "I  thought I'd make a decent $45 because I thought people would be like, 'Well, I already have a whole bunch of T-shirts. I don't need that.'" 

She raised more than $1,200 — not bad for an eight-year-old. "I was pretty shocked," Lily said.

Overcoming obstacles

Lily's big break came last year, when she was invited to speak at an Arbonne convention her mother was attending in Edmonton. 

In front of close to 4,000 people, she talked about overcoming obstacles, including the time she broke her foot during a gymnastics routine, was in a cast for three months, and made a comeback in time for a competition in Florida.  

Lily's new fundraising project will benefit the PEI Humane Society. (Submitted by Kate Flanagan)

"As soon as I finished my speech, there were no more T-shirts left," Lily said. "Because everybody knew who I was."

Lily had raised more than $10,000 — "probably because people think it's really cool that there's a 10-year-old kid doing a fundraiser."

'Some animals are dying right now'

She hasn't stopped there. Lily is now doing a fundraiser for the PEI Humane Society. She's drawn a dog and a cat in the shape of a heart that will appear on everything from dog bowls to bandanas to collars.
 
"Some animals are dying right now because they don't have a place to live and I just wanna help them through that."

Lily's mom, Kate Flanagan, says she's proud of her daughter's fundraising efforts. (Pat Martel/CBC)

About the Author

Pat Martel

Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning — from a writer-broadcaster to a producer. This year, Pat joined the web team with an eye to create great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He always welcomes great story ideas that are visually appealing. pat.martel@cbc.ca