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7-year-old Fort Kent boy donates $1,000 to homeless shelter

FORT KENT, Maine — During a trip downstate with his family, Fort Kent Elementary School student Taydem Daigle was so moved by learning about homelessness, that when he returned to the St. John Valley, he raised $1,000 for Homeless Services of Aroostook.

“The reason I started (raising money) is because we went for pizza in Portland and pepere saw a homeless girl and pepere gave her his pizza,” the 7-year-old said Thursday referring to his grandfather.

Andrea Daigle, Taydem’s mother, said that the family was walking to their car after a family dinner at a restaurant in the Old Port, when Taydem witnessed his paternal grandfather, Greg Daigle, give his leftover food to a homeless woman who was sitting with a dog on the sidewalk.

“It was the first time Taydem had ever seen someone who was homeless so he had a lot of questions,” said Andrea Daigle, a social worker at Fort Kent Community High School. “He just had a lot of questions like, how could she and her dog not have a home and we were [telling him], you never know, maybe she lost her apartment and didn’t want to give away her dog or maybe she had no friends to give her dog away to. Taydem said maybe it was a stray dog that found her. We talked about all kinds of options that could have happened.”

By the time the family arrived at their car, Taydem was determined to return to the woman, wanting to give her some money from his pocket. However, when they drove back by, the woman and her dog were no longer on the sidewalk.

The youngster’s 7th birthday approached shortly after the family returned to Fort Kent. Taydem was so moved by the experience in Portland, that he decided to raise money to help homeless people.

“My birthday was coming so I decided for my birthday to ask people for extra change and money to bring to my birthday so I could give it to the homeless shelter,” he said.

That spare change added up fast. Taydem raised more money from teachers and staff at FKES, and his mother picked up some donations from her friends and acquaintances at the Fort Kent gym Too Far North Fitness, where she exercises.

“It started off with people just giving their spare change,” Andrea Daigle said. “You know the community we live in. They were giving much more than just spare change.”

Taydem raised $1,000 in a matter of a few weeks.

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, he brought his donation to the Sister Mary O’Donnell Emergency Homeless Shelter in Presque Isle, the only such shelter in Aroostook County.

The shelter has housed 1,000 people, including 200 children in the last 7 years, according to the Homeless Services of Aroostook website.

Taydem and his mother toured the shelter.

“It was definitely different than I thought because they actually made it look a lot like a home,” Taydem said. “There was a Girl Scout who came in and painted the walls and all that and they made it look like home.”

Taydem said he plans to continue raising money to help the homeless.

“I don’t know, it just felt good,” he said.

“Taydem would like to go back down to the shelter and cook pizza for them one night,” Andrea Daigle said.

The youngster said his favorite subjects in school are art and physical education. When he grows up he wants to become a game warden.

“Sometimes I like to ride my bike and sometimes I like to go outside and maybe sometimes I like to go on my trampoline. Oh, and I like my karate too,” he said.

Taydem Daigle lives in Fort Kent with his mom, his dad, Corey Daigle, and his 4-year old sister, Brynnley.

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