Jack Bittner and Lily Cooley, both 8, decided to forgo birthday gifts this year in favor of helping raise funds and gather supplies for a local animal shelter.

By Kate Hogan
December 22, 2017 04:20 PM
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Just call them Santa and Mrs. Claus … er, Paws.

Jack Bittner and Lily Cooley, both 8, decided to forgo birthday gifts this year in favor of helping raise funds and gather supplies for a local animal shelter.

“My birthday is close to Christmas, and I get a lot of things for Christmas,” Bittner told Rochester, New York’s ABC 13 of his decision to help. “I like cats and dogs.”

The two partnered with Melissa Cocola of K-9 Creekside Lodge to deliver the goodies — plus a $300 cash donation — to Newark’s Humane Society of Wayne County and its executive director, Mark Plyter.

“I’m feeling a little overwhelmed,” Plyter told ABC. “There’s so much bad stuff out there in the world, and to see, in our little Wayne County, the compassion.”

Cocola, Bittner and Cooley popped into the shelter earlier this week armed with necessities like food, paper towels, bleach and kitty litter (plus toys!). The Humane Society takes in as many as 1,500 pets every year, and relies on donations, fundraising and grants to make ends meet. The $300 in cash will go toward the cost of a new shed and the permit to build it.

Plyter said the surprise was especially moving, considering the kids “instead of thinking of themselves for their birthday party and having people bring them birthday presents, they want[ed] to give back.”

The reasoning was simple, though, Cooley said: “I think animals should also have Christmas.”