TOWNSHEND >> One local girl is learning at an early age the key phrase of "giving back," and on a day that is typically self-centered.
At her 9th birthday party, Jacy Stillwagon received donations to the Windham County Humane Society in lieu of presents. A range of items for dogs, cats and general supplies for the Humane Society's office lined the steps of the Townshend gazebo Saturday afternoon. Stillwagon smiled as she unwrapped cards with money for the organization and she appeared excited each time another donation was placed on the steps.
"I wanted to do it. I'd rather do things for the animals because I'm an animal lover and I don't really care for presents," said Stillwagon. "I want the animals to be happy, safe and have enough love and have things they can do besides laying around."
Stillwagon's mother, Destiny, set up a tent next to the gazebo and hosted a few furry-themed activities for the birthday party attendees, such as fetch. Each child also filled out a fake adoption certificate for their plush dog toy that Destiny gifted to each attendee. She also gifted them a dog whistle, "puppy show," also known as cereal and a tennis ball. The kids hugged their plush toys tightly, danced around the gazebo to the latest pop tunes and snacked on some human treats placed in dog bowls, some labeled "meow mix," or "puppy chow."
"Everybody is loving this idea, everyone is behind this 100 percent, and I think it's awesome (Jacy) is willing to give up regular presents to help out the Humane Society," said Destiny.
Destiny noted that while each birthday party attendee brought a donation, so did other members of the community. They received about 30 donations, a mix of supplies and money all for the Windham County Humane Society.
"We definitely want to extend our gratitude on behalf of everyone at the shelter and the community," said Hannah Clark, the administrative assistant at the Windham County Humane Society.
Clark noted that some of the donations served a portion of the facility's 700 members of the Pet Care Assistance program, which helps low income families with pets. These services include access to its vaccination clinics, pet food assistance and basic preventive care. Clark added that food shelf items are solely supplied by donations, therefore a constant flow of donations is "very important" to the shelter and the community.
"We definitely invite Jacy to come visit us again and would love to have her back. I would encourage her to inspire other kids her age to do other acts of kindness," Clark said.
Stillwagon is already making an impact on her friends as some of them could already acknowledge the goodness of what Stillwagon was doing for the Windham County Humane Society.
"I've learned that she's helping the animals by donating," said Abigail Emerson, 9.
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275