Ella Santucci, on Monday, presented $2,350 to the Colusa County Animal Shelter, an amount she raised in less than a week in lieu of celebrating her birthday in a more traditional way.
Ella, a second grader at Burchfield Primary School, also came bearing other gifts, including 10 bags of dog and cat food and 11 handcrafted leather dog collars.
The money will be used primarily to provide vaccinations against highly contagious viruses that almost certainly prove fatal to unvaccinated shelter animals who are at risk.
“It means everything,” said Chief Animal Control Officer Courtney Elliott. “It means we can provide Parvo shots to puppies and help pay for transportation to clinics when sick animals need it. It saves lives.”
Ella was first inspired two years ago after hearing the story of a teenager who gave up birthday presents to raise money for a horse sanctuary. But at age 6, the idea of giving up birthday gifts, even when your birthday falls on Christmas Day, was too much for such a tender age.
Such was not the case this year, and with the encouragement of family and help from social media, Ella set a goal of raising just $200 to help a few animals live long enough to find forever homes with people who will love them as much as she loves her own dog, a brindle Corgi named Cash.
“After one hour on Facebook, her fundraiser had already passed her goal,” said Ella’s mother, Kristi Santucci.
Even bumping her goal to $500 and then $1,000 didn’t slow the generosity of people to show their support for such a good cause. The amount Ella raised is enough to provide more than 380 dogs with life-saving vaccinations, officials said.
“I want to thank everyone who supported me,” Ella said.
More importantly, Ella’s birthday fundraiser has inspired others to selflessly give up their childhood birthday tradition of opening gifts in order to help the Friends of the Colusa County Animal Shelter, who rely on donations not only to provide animals with vaccinations, but with food, bedding, toys, and other bare necessities.
Ella’s fundraiser concluded with a birthday party at J.V. Grooming and Pet Resort, in Colusa, where she and her friends stamped out genuine Santucci Leather to make dog collars in all sizes so 11 canines could wear them when they leave the shelter.
“It was on their wish list,” Ella said. “The dogs will get to take them home.” υ