Aidan Anderson with Ignacio Serra, a patient at M.D. Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, during Children Cancer Awareness Month. CONTRIBUTED BY TOREN ANDERSON
A good portion of Aidan's volunteer work is through his church, the Atlanta Dream Center. At least twice a week, Aidan and his mother make the 30-mile drive from their home to the center to worship and also help with service projects, such as the church's Adopt-a-Block effort.
He credits his mother, Toren Anderson, with instilling in him the importance of giving. “Ever since I was little, she modeled giving,” he said. In fact, he and his mother would take casseroles to shut-ins and water, food and blankets to homeless people.
Aidan, who is homeschooled, is a prolific speaker. He gave his first keynote speech at the age of 11, followed by a speech at a global youth summit in England when he was only 12. To date, he has spoken on two continents, sharing his passion for giving and encouraging other young people to do the same. Last year, he spoke at a cultural summit in Austin, Texas, that was hosted by Keller Williams Realty for its associates.
“Honestly, he rocked the house,” said Kay Evans, the Southeast regional owner of Keller Williams Realty. “People loved him. He’s got a gift for being natural and speaking. It is rare to find someone his age who has the heart that he has to help other people.”
On his website, aidancares.org, he gives advice to young people about the joy of giving, and he talks about his path to giving in his own TEDx Talk.
“Aidan's time is allotted between speaking to schools and corporations,” said his mother, Toren, who Aidan describes as his giving partner and best friend. “He was on the main stage at Atlanta-based Leadercast in May with (Apple co-founder) Steve Wozniak and (University of Alabama football coach) Nick Saban, among others. He rocked it.” And friends and family know that Aidan’s impact has just begun.
Aidan will be giving out toys with hundreds of other volunteers at the Atlanta Dream Center's Annual Christmas Toy Giveaway.
Atlanta Dream Center
652 Angier Ave. N.E., Atlanta.
9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17
Aidan’s 6 Tips on Giving
1. Give the gift of you. Be real and do you. Put down the device and focus exactly on the person you are with. Any encounter without kindness and connection is not a win.
2. Find your purpose and passion in giving. Give from a place that matters to you.
3. No matter how small an act of giving, it matters.
4. Hang with givers. Your crowd needs to be the giving crowd.
5. No excuses! Giving and compassion need to be as much a part of your life as breathing, working and your relationships.
6. Think of the world as a giant mosaic. It will never be complete without you. YOU MATTER.