The animal gifter
Girl swaps birthday presents for shelter donations
— Most 7-year-olds get toys for their birthday. Tessa Paoletti got cat food, and she couldn’t be happier.
That’s because instead of presents, the Elkton first-
grader asked people to give her donations for the Cecil County Animal Services shelter. The simple gesture resulted in her receiving roughly 500 pounds of dog food, 100 pounds of cat food and lots of treats and pet beds, all of which amounted to one of the biggest donations from an individual that shelter employees can recall.
“That’s really generous
coming from a child,” said Kaylyn Barnes, shelter supervisor. “It’s amazing for someone so young to do something so great.”
Tessa is no stranger to the animal shelter though — or to animals. She frequently comes to the shelter with her parents, Nick and Amanda, to play with the dogs and cats, and the family is currently fostering a mother cat and two kittens. Those three are in addition to the two Bernese mountain dogs, a rat terrier, a chihuahua and two snakes they already have at home.
So, with Tessa’s birthday coming up, her parents asked her whether she wanted more toys or whether she wanted donations for the animal shelter. Both admit to being surprised — but proud — when she chose the later.
“We’re really proud of her,” Nick said. “Not a lot of kids would think of the animals, only themselves, but she’s very unselfish.”
For Tessa though, the motivation to ask for donations instead of toys was simple.
“The animals don’t have homes, and I want to help them,” said Tessa, who wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
And shelter employees are grateful for the donation. The shelter currently has 200 animals, over 130 of which are cats and kittens, and depends on donations from the community to help fill in the gaps in its budget, said Sarah Bensinger, a vet tech at the shelter.
“Without (the community), we wouldn’t be where we are,” she said. Tessa Paoletti poses with a cat at the Cecil County Animal Services shelter.
Anyone wishing to follow Tessa’s example and make a donation, can stop by the shelter, which is located at 3280 Augustine Herman Highway near Chesapeake City. The shelter is open six days a week (closed Monday) with various times each day, but someone is always there from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The shelter also has a wishlist on Amazon and also lists requested items on its Facebook page.
Tessa Paoletti plays with a cat at the Cecil County Animal Services shelter. Instead of birthday gifts, Paoletti asked for donations for the shelter.
Tessa Paoletti poses with the donations of dog and cat food she delivered to the county animal shelter this week.
Tessa Paoletti plays with two cats at the Cecil County Animal Services shelter.