Local youth forgoes birthday presents to help animals


Kylee Garcia might only be six years old, but she already has big aspirations and an even bigger heart. 

The young Colusa resident, a kindergarten student at Burchfield Primary that is described by her mother as a “100 percent animal lover,” wants to be a veterinarian, and she’s already doing her part to help animals in need in the county.

For her birthday this year, Garcia didn’t want presents – at least not for herself. She asked that her family and friends instead bring donations to her birthday party on April 15 – food, collars, toys, leashes, and more – for her to pass along to the Friends of the Colusa County Animal Shelter (FOCCAS).

“We were at the grocery store, and the animal shelter had a little (donation) basket set up,” Garcia’s mom, Kelli Griffith-Garcia said. “So she walked over, and she thought that those photos meant that you get to take that animal home. She grabbed one of the papers, and I explained it to her in the car, and she said, ‘Well, I want to make some donations, mom.’”

Garcia noted that her birthday was approaching, and that it might be a good opportunity to donate to the shelter. Griffith-Garcia suggested that her daughter forgo presents at her party in favor of donation items, and Garcia jumped on board.

“She was completely excited and all about it,” Griffith-Garcia said. “As a mom, though, I was a little nervous because she was just going to be turning six. I was thinking that she loves animals, and she thinks this is a great idea, but you know what it’s like to turn six, and when you don’t have presents that are toys for you – I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go over.”

It went over just fine.

“The day of the party, she was overwhelmingly excited at all of the stuff that came in,” Griffith-Garcia said. “She has said since she was very little that she wants to be a veterinarian. And so, in her idea, this was kind of how she could help the animals now… Honestly, from a parent’s point of view, I think she was more excited opening up and seeing what she was going to donate to these animals at the shelter, more than she was when she opened up gifts for her self.

The excitement continued, and was readily apparent in Garcia’s beaming face when she finally dropped all of the items off at the Colusa County Animal Shelter on Friday afternoon. When asked how donating the items made her feel, she said simply that it made her feel “good.” 

Garcia’s charitability at such a young age has made Griffith-Garcia one proud mother.

“With all of our kids, we’ve tried to teach them to be grateful for what they have, because not everybody has those same experiences or opportunities,” Griffith-Garcia said. “I’m really finally kind of seeing that shine through with my kids now, and it’s great as a parent to see that – because, you know, in a world today where we have all kinds of crazy things going on, it’s nice to see that there is good that is still taking place, especially when it’s our children.”

Her donation also made a mark on the staff at the animal shelter.

“We think it is terrific that Kylee used her birthday as an opportunity to help the animals at our shelter,” said Chief Animal Control Officer Courtney Elliot. “Her donations will improve the shelter environment, the animals’ experience, and their adoptability.” ■

Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.