Andrew Teel - Buck Up

#BuckUp For Mental Health: 'It could have been me out on the street'

VANCOUVER, BC – After spending the first six and a half years of his life in foster care, Andrew Teel finally found his “forever family.”

And it all started with a hug.

Every morning, Andrew would see a woman line up a group of kids outside and give each of them a hug. One day, he asked her why she was hugging all of them. The woman, named Sandy, explained that she ran a daycare and was responsible for taking each of them to school – and just wanted to make sure they felt loved and cared for. Andrew wanted that feeling, too.

So he asked: “Can you hug me?”

She did. And then she did again the next day. And the day after that. And after about a month, she learned Andrew’s story and began the process of adopting him.

Now 15, Andrew says “he wouldn’t trade [his] family for anything.”

He’s grateful for the life he’s been given, but he also knows there are many children out there who are less fortunate. That’s why Andrew wants to give back.

In December, he started the Toonies for Teens campaign and since then he has already raised nearly $50,000 for Covenant House, which provides services and support for at-risk youth in Vancouver. And now he’s getting behind Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s #BuckUp for Mental Health campaign, which is also raising funds for Covenant House Vancouver.

Andrew, who was featured in the campaign video, tells us his story below.

Why is this cause important to you?

Because I could have been one of those kids. It could have been me out on the street. But it’s not and now I have a chance to give back.

How did you get involved with Covenant House?

It started when I was 11, I decided that I wanted to do something to help so I collected toonies, made stockings, and went downtown at Oppenheimer and gave out stockings to the homeless. The second year I took my stockings to Covenant House and when I was there I saw that this place was really making a difference. That was the beginning of Toonies for Teens.

What motivated you to start that campaign?

When I was younger, I grew up in foster care. Some kids have great foster families, but I didn’t. I was in so many different places that I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. Lots of bad things happened to me and I had no one to tell. If I was older I would have run away. So I thought when I do get out, if I do, that I want to do something with it to make a difference.

I know you’re grateful to have found your “forever family.” How does it make you feel that there are kids out there who don’t have families of their own?

Awful. Nothing is more important than family. But that’s why I’m glad there is Covenant House where kids can feel safe and loved.  

What’s your message to people reading this?

I would say the dollar or two in your pocket probably isn’t going to change your life, but if you donate it to Covenant House they can change the lives of the kids like me still out there.

Fans can support the ‘Caps #BuckUp for Mental Health campaign and Covenant House Vancouver in a variety of ways: