A suburban third-grader decided that she wanted to use her 8th birthday into a fundraising opportunity, asking friends to provide donations to the Anti-Cruelty Society in order to help their lifesaving work on behalf of animals in the Chicago area.
Olivia Savarese, who turned 8 years old earlier this year, eschewed the usual gifts that she and her mother tend to get for her other friends, and instead asked for animal toys and other items to donate to the society.
“Instead of giving me gifts this year, I would like to have animal stuff,” she said. “Like toys for dogs and cats. And it felt so good to not get presents this year, and it made the animals so happy.”
Nicole Savarese says that the family’s relationship with the Anti-Cruelty Society began in earnest when they adopted a dog late last year, and said she’s proud of her daughter for selflessly choosing to help the society move its mission forward.
“It’s a great feeling to know that’s instilled at such a young age, because I want it to continue,” she said.
“It made me feel so good,” Olivia added. “I gave a gift to the cat, and the cat was just playing with it and it felt so good.”
The Anti-Cruelty Society helps facilitate pet adoptions for the more than 500 animals that it cares for, and also helps to provide low-cost spay and neutering services, as well as funding cruelty investigations and rescue operations.
Bridget Bittman, who works for ACS, says that Savarese’s gift is yet another heartwarming example of the lengths residents have gone to in order to help the shelter thrive.
“That’s just incredible to have that commitment to animals in need, and especially to the Anti-Cruelty Society,” she said.
Now, the Savarese family hopes that their unique birthday celebration will help inspire others to do the same.
“I think it will catch on, and I’m gonna be really happy if it does,” Olivia said.