Birthday party goes to the dogs at 4 Paws
XENIA, Ohio – What could be better than a birthday party full of puppies? Maybe a girl who, instead of gifts for herself, donates to help those puppies get everything they need to be the best service dogs they can be for children with disabilities who need them.
Self-proclaimed animal lover Sarah MacKenzie, 10, who attends the 4th grade at Summit Academy of Xenia, is a regular volunteer at 4 Paws for Ability with her mom. They’ve been volunteering for three years, helping socialize the puppies.
“My mom and I were at the mall and saw a 4 Paws for Ability dog, and I asked to pet it. I was 7 at the time. When I kept asking for a puppy, my mom thought it would be a good idea to volunteer at 4 Paws for Ability instead.”
Taking the puppies out into public and giving them lots of love on a regular basis, as a volunteer is how she realized that she needed to do something more to help those puppies that she adored so much.
“I thought they did not have enough toys and treats,” said Sarah, who also said she likes how the dogs are trained to help other kids.
So that’s when the idea hit her. She wanted to have a party for the dogs! It wasn’t just any party, but her own birthday party.
“I invited a lot of my friends, and 12 of my friends and their parents came to the party,” she said.
4 Paws for Ability, in Xenia, was decked out with puppy posters and ‘Happy Birthday’ signs galore. There was loads of pizza, fruit, potato chips and, what else, but sweet puppy-shaped cupcakes.
They enjoyed a game of ‘Put the paw print on the dog’—much like ‘Pin the tail on the donkey,’ she explained.
After playing Twister, the 4 Paws for Ability staff and volunteers taught Sarah and her fiends how to socialize with the puppies. Which means, they also got the chance to play and cuddle with puppies. They all had a ball, she remembered.
In keeping with the ‘doggie theme’ Sarah passed out thank-you gifts in, what else, but doggie bags. They were full of dog pencils, dog tattoos, candy, and paw-print stamps.
Volunteering at 4 Paws for Ability and giving back with her birthday party is special to the 10-year-old philanthropist. She knows how much children with disabilities are just like her in many ways, and how they can thrive with a service dog by their side.
“My good friend Anna was born with two missing fingers on both hands and had to have surgery on her hands several times. She is really nice. I also know a girl in my church fellowship that uses a wheelchair and has a service dog. She is super friendly and gives great hugs.”
In all, Sarah and her party guests raised, $300 for her favorite place to volunteer and for her favorite puppies to get all the toys and treats to make them the happiest service dogs anywhere!
By Jessica Noll-Korczyk