The Daily Southerner —
Her birthday is a treat for local animals.
Zoe Little makes her birthday a day to look forward to especially if you are an animal in one of the local animal shelters.
Like any other 9-year-old Little has a birthday party with friends, fun and gifts but for the last five years, she has asked her guests not to bring gifts for her but food for cats and dogs so she can donate it to local animal shelters.
"I do it because it's nice and it helps the animals," Little said.
Little's mother, Melanie, explained that each year for her daughter's party, she and her husband Clifton Little Jr. organize a scavenger hunt on their family farm for the partygoers.
After the boys and girls face off, the winning team gets to pummel the losers with water balloons, a tactic that draws kids to Zoe's annual event.
Little knows all about pets and taking care of animals with three dogs – Lulu, Molly and Flash – some cows, horses and goats that need care on a regular basis.
"My mom thought it was a really nice idea and it helps the animals a lot," she said.
Melanie explained that after several birthdays and Christmases with gifts leftover that weren't opened all given to Zoe, she thought it would be a good idea to find a way to eliminate some of unopened gifts while teaching her daughter a lesson in charity.
"She still gets gifts from her family," Melanie said. "But I want her to learn about charity and helping those in need."
Melanie said that collecting food for animals was Zoe's idea.
This year's donation was given to the Tarboro Animal Shelter and picked up a few days ago by Peggy Harrell.
"This year, Zoe has donated over 150 pounds of pet food to SPCA Alliance of N.C. for their pet food bank to help families who are having a hard time feeding their pets due to unemployment or other hardships," said Harrell. "She also received some monetary gifts which she donated to help neuter a homeless dog.
"Hopefully when Zoe grows up she'll become one of our best veterinarians," continued Harrell. "She's definitely on the right track."
Zoe said that after giving her donation that she feels "good" and that by having her pets "we get to take care of them and have really good fun with them."
In her spare time, the G.W. Carver Elementary School third grader is coloring, drawing or playing on her Nintendo and said that when she grows up she wants to be a teacher.
Zoe Little, left, and her friend Haley Grandshaw, are all smiles after collecting more than 100 pounds of dog and cat food for local animals through the Tarboro Animal Shelter. Photo/Submitted