A South Surrey youngster, who one day plans to become prime minister of Canada, has set an interim goal of raising $3,000 for vulnerable people living on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
Semiahmoo Trail Elementary student Rocco Forte, 11, entered a team of classmates, parents and teachers into the White Rock Coldest Night of the Year event, scheduled to start at 3 p.m., Feb. 22 at Memorial Park in White Rock.
As of Sunday morning, the team has raised $1,674.
“My goal one day is to go into politics and I’m a big fan of Sources now,” Rocco said. “They have a lot of programs, of course a kid can’t be on the board or a CEO, one thing I can do is help out with the Coldest Night.”
To raise awareness on the programs offered by Sources, Rocco started a video series, Rocco Reports, in which he interviews people about homelessness on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
He said his teachers allow him to show his videos to his classmates, and sometimes allow him to do morning announcements.
“Not every morning because otherwise people are just going to get annoyed and start ignoring me,” Rocco explained.
He said filming the series taught him that many local homeless people aren’t living on the streets, but are sleeping on their friend’s couch or living in their vehicle.
“One day I saw a man pushing a shopping cart and I was like, ‘he’s pretty far away from the grocery store.’ My mom said, ‘I don’t think he’s grocery shopping, that person is probably pushing all of his belongings,’” Rocco said.
“That made me feel lucky, luckier than him. Just because, first of all, I don’t think I could fit all of my belongings in a shopping cart – too much Lego.”
Rocco said he wants Canada’s most powerful job so he could bring attention to the issue, and inspire people to help their communities rather than relying on taxpayer money.
His efforts have captured the attention of lifelong politician and former South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg.
“(Hogg) called my mom and asked to meet with me,” Rocco said. “So now we’re pretty good friends.”
Rocco said he travelled to Ottawa for a Parliament tour that Hogg arranged.
“I actually got these mints called Parlia-mints. Sometimes, I joke about how that’s what parliamentary leaders use to keep their breath clean,” Rocco said.
And Rocco was at the B.C. Legislature when Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracy Redies mentioned him by name during question period.
“I was acknowledged, and my family was acknowledged by Tracy Redies… for helping with the Coldest Night and supporting homeless people. One mistake she made was that she called us the Foot family, but I didn’t really mind,” Rocco said.
“She apologized profusely,” his mother Sara added. “I could tell – when we were watching – the moment she realized she said the wrong name.”
When he’s not raising money for homelessness issues, Rocco likes to collect pins from places and organizations dear to his heart.
Rocco proudly showed Peace Arch News a collection of his pins, noting that he usually wears a pin representing the City of White Rock, the City of Surrey and Sources. He added that Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux gave him “a bunch” of pins to add to his collection.
The White Rock Coldest Night event has raised $60,951 of its $100,000 goal this year.
This is the fourth year that Rocco has participated in the event, his team fundraising page can be found here.