FORT QU'APPELLE, SASK. -- Most philanthropists tend to be a bit older, using their wisdom and wealth to help others. That’s not the case with Catherine Okolita from Fort Qu’Appelle, who began her philanthropic career at the age of five.

Catherine donated $500 towards a new playground in a nearby park. It was built by the Fort Qu’Appelle and District Lions Club, a group that’s had its usual fundraising activities disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When Catherine came and had a cheque to donate to us, it meant so much, because she works so hard, and she is an enterprising young woman,” Lions Club Treasurer Lynne Simmons said.

Okolita is being honoured as a CTV Hometown Hero for her work.

“I run and I founded Catherine’s Cause when I was five-years-old,” Okolita said. “It started with a park cleanup, and it just grew and grew from there because I wanted to be a community helper, and share kindness and love.”

This donation is only a drop in the bucket compared to the total amount Catherine has raised. Catherine’s Cause has donated more than $150,000 to several groups.

Catherine’s Cause has supported Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, Food Banks, and a cancer support group.

But the biggest beneficiary has been the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Regina General Hospital.

“The NICU, the big thing is I wanted to help save babies’ lives,” Okolita said. “That is what made me want to help the NICU. And everyone was like, ‘Yes, we do to.’”

Catherine’s work is being noticed far and wide. Country singer Paul Brandt posted a video about Catherine’s work on social media.

“Hey Catherine, Paul Brandt here, just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all your efforts,” Brandt said in the video.

Her name was also mentioned in the Saskatchewan Legislature by Cabinet Minister Don McMorris. “Catherine’s motto ‘change the world with kindness’ is so powerful, and we can all benefit from her initiatives,” McMorris said.

Now 12-years-old, Catherine hopes to continue her fundraising efforts.

“Anyone can do anything in kindness,” Okolita said. “No matter how big or how small, great things can happen.”