Most kids turning 9 have a wish list of birthday presents that can grow to be quite lengthy. That was not the case for Skylar Buchman of Millvale.
In lieu of Monster High dolls or clothes from Justice, Skylar asked her 10 guests to bring donations for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society to her June 19 birthday party.
The response was overwhelming to Skylar and her family.
"We received several toys, a gift card, food and about $100 in donations," said Jeannie Dorban, Skylar's great-grandmother. "Whatever would make a 9-year-old want to donate her birthday presents is something I just wanted to share."
Skylar, whose birthday was June 2, was accompanied by her great-grandparents when she dropped off the donated items at the shelter on Western Avenue Monday. She was treated to a tour of the facility.
"She went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the shelter, where she was able to meet a veterinarian on staff, see some of the animals recently spayed and neutered, and meet some newborn kittens and puppies," said Gretchen Fieser, director of public relations and marketing for the shelter.
Skylar's mother, Bonnie Evans, said Skylar has loved animals since she was very young and added that a family member is a veterinarian.
"Skylar has always been fascinated with that but knows it is a commitment," she said.
The shelter program, Friends for Change, inspired Skylar to donate her birthday presents.
The program's website said it is a "global initiative that inspires kids and their families to make a lasting, positive change by helping people, communities and the planet."
Skylar, who has two cats, Big Cat and Casper, said she loves animals and wants to take care of them.
"I think it is wonderful because I am an animal lover, too," Ms. Dorban said. "[Western Pennsylvania Humane Society] is my favorite charity. I take her down there once a year to look at the animals."
"I hope that she understands that not everyone can take care of their own pets and that she is making a difference," Ms. Evans said.
Ms. Fieser echoed Ms. Evans' sentiments.
"Skylar or any child can donate any amount of money -- just $5 or $1 can really make a difference to the WPHS and in an animal's life."
The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society was established in 1874 to prevent cruelty to animals, children and the elderly. Today, it embraces an "Open Door Mission" and cares for every pet in need, its website states.
To donate: 412-321-4625 or www.wpahumane.com.neigh_north
Roxanne Tuinstra, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.