A month ago, eight-year-old Hyde Park resident Tabitha Canning took out all of her 21 dollars from her piggy bank to support the Center for Prevention of Child Abuse.
That was just one of many good deeds the pint-sized philanthropist has done within the last few years to help make a difference both in her community and outside of the Hudson Valley.
“I want to have a peaceful community,” she said. “So doing stuff like this, I think, helps.”
Canning’s grandparents had also donated money to the CPCA for training volunteers who become involved with their Project Protect 2021 initiative, which aims to train locals on how they can report child abuse in their communities. She donated $21 specifically to mark this year’s initiative.
She had been rewarded with the organization’s Rising Star Award in 2019 for her work in spreading happiness to first responders. She started Tabitha’s Project Smile when she was in Kindergarten, which is designed to spread joy and kindness through good deeds, such as making cupcakes, to everyone she encounters.
“I think these police officers and firefighters are in tough jobs,” she said. “I do want to bring them smiles.”
Her father John works as a corrections officer, which he says is how she understood how hard those in law enforcement work.
“She sees a lot of what’s going on in the world,” he said. “She knows that they need somebody to encourage them and support them in what they do.”
Canning makes her own cupcakes and makes rounds to deliver them to different agencies and organizations across the Hudson Valley.
To help bring joy during the pandemic, she held a food drive for her church after realizing how low the food was in their pantry.
“I was like, I have to do something about this,” she said.
Canning’s parents have always noticed a desire in their daughter to give back.
“She’s always just been a passionate kid. She’s always had a heart for people,” said John. “Everything she has done was totally her idea, and my wife and I try to support her.”
She has gone as far as Texas to spread joy. After Hurricane Harvey struck in 2017, she made ornaments for Christmas that year.
“I was afraid [the locals] wouldn’t have ornaments for the tree after the hurricane, so I went and made a whole bunch of ornaments and sent them in a package to Texas,” she said.
As more people get vaccinated this summer, Canning and her family hope to deliver more cupcakes in person.
“With people being more vaccinated, it won’t be something that we’ll have to think so much about,” said John.