Two 8-year-olds collect donations for animal shelter, instead of asking for birthday gifts

(WHAM photo)

Wayne County, N.Y. - A special surprise just in time for the holidays: On Monday, K-9 Creekside Lodge surprised the Humane Society of Wayne County with a slew of donations for Christmas.

"I’m feeling a little overwhelmed," said Mark Plyter, the executive director of the shelter. “There's so much bad stuff out there, and to see, in our little Wayne County, show the compassion."

The small animal shelter in Newark takes in 1,300 -1,500 cats and dogs each year. The cost to care for them gets expensive, and the shelter relies solely on donations, fundraising and grants.

Melissa Cocola of Creekside Lodge started raising money for the shelter after Thanksgiving.

“This just made me feel wonderful today, to see how grateful and thankful they are," she said.

Cocola had two 8-year-old elves in her fundraising effort. Jack Bittner and Lily Cooley both collected donations for the shelter instead of asking for birthday gifts this year.

“My birthday is close to Christmas, and I get a lot of things for Christmas,” he said. “I like cats and dogs."

Lily Cooley loves animals and has a few dogs at home.

“I asked for donations because Christmas is right around the block,” she said.

She and Bittner unloaded cat and dog food from a box sitting beneath a Christmas tree inside the shelter. Other donations included much-needed paper towels, bleach, kitty litter and animal food.

"One of the things that really touches my heart a lot,” Plyter said, "is when they see children who, instead of thinking of themselves and have people bring them birthday presents, they want to give back.”

Bittner and Cooley says it feels good to give back. The shelter also received a generous donation of nearly $300 for a shed, necessary for storage.

"Melissa and her crew have done an awful lot of us,” he said. “It's not just these, it's their friendship. The money for the new shed that they donated the money for. It's something she knew we needed."

What will they use it for?

"Kitty litter,” Plyter said, laughing.

The gift also covers the cost for the building permit.

"It's heartwarming to see how much this meant to Mark and the people here at the shelter,” Cocola said. “That's all we needed for the holiday."

“I think the shelter felt happy," Bittner said.

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