For most kids' eighth birthday, the party is a chance to rake in the goods. Barbies, Legos and the Goosebumps books are popular gifts when you’re 8. So what could possibly make an 8-year-old turn down such a haul?
Abby Norr saw her birthday as a unique opportunity to help animals in need.
This winter, Abby, a third-grader at Lutherville Laboratory Elementary, asked only for donations to an animal shelter for her birthday.
“Abby's invitation stated that in lieu of gifts, she was collecting donations for Defenders of Animal Rights (DOAR), our favorite shelter,” said Abby’s mom, Andrea Norr of Timonium. Three of the Norr family’s four cats had been adopted from DOAR, and Abby would love to adopt all the rest. Instead, she contented herself with helping the animals still living at the shelter.
"Humans aren't the only living things in the world," Abby said stoutly when asked why she wanted to help the shelter.
Abby’s friends were happy to donate. Some brought toys for the animals and some brought cash. Even some classmates and a teacher donated toys when Abby mentioned her project in school. Abby’s extended family was not exempt from her request, either. Her grandparents and aunt also bought cat and dog toys for Abby’s birthday.
Abby is wise in the ways of what kinds of toys an animal will like. “Cats usually like a mini stuffed animal or a ball,” she said. “People gave me a toy hamburger, stuffed toys and catnip toys. I bought rawhide treats and squeaky toys for dogs. I also bought miniature mice and toy sardines for the cats. I bought things to entertain the animals.”
Several weeks after collecting the toys and using the cash donations to buy more treats and necessities for the animals, Abby took a friend and dropped the whole load off at DOAR in January. Of course, they stuck around to play with the animals. “We resisted adopting anymore,” Andrea said.
This doesn’t sit well with Abby, whose heart always has room for more, even if her house doesn’t.
“I remember a black cat that looked like one of my cats, and he was really sweet, and I wanted to adopt him, but I knew we had four cats and couldn't adopt him,” she said.
She hasn’t stopped trying, though. “These are animals that don't have a home and don't have one loving owner,” she said. “So we should adopt them so they have one loving owner.”
But with loving four cats already, Abby's going to stick to donating for a while.
Editor's Note: Congratulations, Abby!
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