Eight-year-old's gift to 'give 'em shelter'

By Hank Lohmeyer


Eight-year-old's gift to 'give 'em shelter' | Cedaredge Animal Control, Cedaredge,

Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control is off to a fine beginning with its plans for a replacement main building at the Surface Creek Animal Shelter. Shown above are, from left, Larry Dumler, president of FCAC; Aaliyah Huberd, eight-ye

Plans for a replacement main building at the Surface Creek Animal Shelter got a big boost recently -- not big in monetary terms, but very big in terms of expressing what the shelter's mission to "give 'em shelter" is all about.

The story begins when, as he stopped by the shelter during daily errands, Larry Dumler, president of the Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control, checked the change box. He was surprised to find the bottom of the metal container covered with a large collection of coins.

Upon further investigation, he learned that a Cedaredge girl, Aaliyah Huberd, had donated the coins to the building fund.

In fact, Aaliyah had set out a donation jar at her eighth birthday party to gather donations for the shelter. Her mother, Amanda, explained that Aaliyah's party had a theme of "The Littlest Pet Shop."

Aaliyah, her friends and their parents dug deep and came up with a total $17.90 at the event, all in coin. That was the money Dumler had been surprised to find in the daily change box.

The project to construct a new main building to replace an old mobile home at the Surface Creek Animal Shelter has also gotten some impetus from other friends of the Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control as well. The FCAC board thought that Aaliyah's most thoughtful act could serve as a proper occasion for reminding friends everywhere that donations to the building project are being gratefully accepted now.

The FCAC has not actually officially initiated a fundraising campaign for its new structure. However, Aaliyah's unexpected contribution to the effort seemed like an ideal moment to announce that the building fund drive is underway.

And, in fact, the FCAC has been the recent beneficiary of another heartfelt donation for their project. A brother and sister teamed up efforts to bake cupcakes and sell them at AppleFest as a fundraiser for the new building, FCAC officials said.

It was soon after her birthday in June that Aaliyah delivered the $17.90 in loose change to the shelter.

Aaliyah is a third grader in the Vision program. She has several pets of her own including a guinea pig, two dogs (Max and Ava), and a cat (Libby). She also comes to the shelter often with her mother to visit the cats there to give them some compassionate human interaction. She wants to be a volunteer and help out at the shelter but is still a little too young.

Aaliyah wanted to do something for the shelter as a birthday project, like buy food and donate it to the shelter, her mother, Amanda, told the DCI. In the process of calling to ask what things were needed, they discovered the building project. Aaliyah decided to make her donation to that purpose instead.

The FCAC is in the process of taking over ownership of the shelter facility from the Town of Cedaredge. The operation is headquartered in an old mobile home which, FCAC board members point out, is nearing the end of its useful life. The mobile home includes a service kitchen, an office area, and housing for the many kittens and cats that the shelter cares for and adopts to new owners.

FCAC board members say their proposed new building won't increase their facility in size, except for enclosing several kennels for dogs which are now located in the open air. "What we plan is modest," explained board president Dumler.

Board member Jacki Dapkus added that everything the FCAC does is geared exclusively to finding homes for the animals that come under its care. Granting agencies recognize that, "and they like that," Dapkus said.

The building project has fired the imagination of Aaliyah who plans to do some more fundraising for the cause by hosting bake sales.

People may donate to the building fund project through whatever normal channels they currently use. Or, Dumler said that anyone may call him at 856-4158 for information about the project and other shelter programs.