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December 10, 2019

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Acting on a true sense of social justice

Atticus McIlraith kicks off his baby formula drive

One boy is making sure no babies go hungry this holiday season and he needs your help. 

Atticus McIlraith, 11, has just kicked off his second annual baby formula drive in support of Winnipeg Harvest. He hopes to collect $3,000 worth of baby formula by Dec. 22. 

Dec. 10, 2014 - Atticus McIlraith is organizing a baby formula drive for Winnipeg Harvest. He hopes to collect $3,000 worth of formula by December 22. (CANSTAR/SOUWESTER/DANIELLE DA SILVA)

DANIELLE DA SILVA - SOU'WESTER

Dec. 10, 2014 - Atticus McIlraith is organizing a baby formula drive for Winnipeg Harvest. He hopes to collect $3,000 worth of formula by December 22. (CANSTAR/SOUWESTER/DANIELLE DA SILVA)

"I never went hungry as a baby so neither should any other babies," Atticus said in his home in Lord Roberts. The J.B. Mitchell student first heard about the need for baby formula last year while listening to the radio.

“He has a real sense of justice, like there’s right and there’s wrong” Sharon McIlraith, Atticus’ mom

"Last year Winnipeg Harvest put out a plea for baby formula and I decided to answer that plea by raising baby formula at my school concert," Atticus explained.  He isn’t sure what it was about the radio spot that prompted him to take action, but he knew he had to do something.

"I’m just that person," Atticus said. "I was really, really wanting to help, and that’s all I can describe because that’s really what went through my mind."

According to Winnipeg Harvest, on average 1,600 infants require baby formula each month. However, baby formula isn’t typically donated along with other food items.

Atticus’ mother Sharon McIlraith believes her son is responding to his "true sense of social justice."

Atticus has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism characterized by difficulty in social interaction and nonverbal communication. 

"He said ‘Mom I was never hungry, so it’s not fair that other people should be hungry,’" McIlraith said. "And that’s what he said to me right from the beginning.

"He has a real sense of justice, like there’s right and there’s wrong." 

In 2013, Atticus raised over $1,500 worth of baby formula for Winnipeg Harvest’s Hunger for Hope campaign and wants to double that figure this year. So far Atticus has done some public presentations to support the cause, including giving a speech and performing a song at Willowlake Baptist Church, and has worked with Winnipeg Harvest to make a poster and write his own public service announcement. 

McIlraith and her husband are supportive of Atticus’ charitable drive and have backed him previously when he raised $1,000 for victims of the earthquake in Haiti by selling his toys. 

"It seems to always come down to the children for him," McIlraith said. "At Harvest you could donate food too, but he says ‘Mom, it’s the babies.’"

Atticus is encouraging people to donate what they can to the cause or start their own formula drive. He has also teamed up with Walt Morris, a local businessman with a number of car dealerships in the city, to help out with collection and distribution. Donations can be dropped off at any one of the Walt Morris Group of Companies, or for people wanting to start their own drive contact Winnipeg Harvest or Morris to arrange for a bin to be dropped off. 

"This helps Harvest a lot because they’re busy this time of year," McIlraith said.

Collection bins are also set up at École J. B. Mitchell School (1720 John Brebeuf Pl.), Willowlake Baptist Church (45 Willowlake Cres.), Churchill Park United Church (525 Beresford Ave.), Trinity United Church (933 Summerside Ave.), and Sylvan Learning Centre (530 Kenaston Blvd.).

You can also donate by contacting Atticus at oneboyforchange@gmail.com or by calling Sharon McIlraith at 204-391-3978.

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