Around the holidays it’s common to see heart-wrenching commercials that show images of neglected or abused animals in need of a happy, loving home.
What’s not so common is for a five-year-old to see such a commercial and develop an unwavering determination to help.
Lola Pimentel-Barker recently decided to forgo gifts at her sixth birthday party in order to help raise cash for the Bermuda Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). In total she was able to collect $1,028 thanks to support from friends and family.
Lola said the Christmas time commercial really touched her and she wanted to give back in any way she could.
At first she wanted to adopt a cat of her own, but considering her father, Che Barker, is highly allergic she had to look at another option.
“The commercial was about different dogs and cats who needed a home,” she told The Royal Gazette.
“It was sad to see lots of animals that have been left all alone because people don’t take care of them any more. At first I wanted to adopt a cat, but then I figured it would be good if I didn’t ask for presents for my birthday and gave money to SPCA instead.”
Sara Corday, the development and volunteer coordinator at the SPCA, said the charity was always grateful for any donations that came in.
However, it was particularly special coming from a young person.
“We have definitely seen an increase in children donating in their birthday or Christmas gifts,” she explained. “We even had two children last Halloween who went door-to-door and rather than asking for candy they asked for donations.
“Whenever those things happen we are very happy and very grateful because children tend to want presents.
“Someone coming to the party with a bag of dog or cat food or a monetary donation doesn’t seem to benefit them, but in the long run it does because they understand from a young age what giving is and to think of other people, or in this case animals, before themselves.”
Ms Corday said she was very appreciative of children like Lola — and their parents who often have to put the plan into action.
Lola’s mom, Lizz Pimentel, said her daughter came up with the idea for the kind gesture on her own.
After seeing the commercial on television, Ms Pimentel didn’t push the idea any further and just “tried to leave it alone”.
But the youngster was still adamant about giving back by the time her birthday rolled around on January 26.
“I thought it was sweet and it came from a really genuine and honest desire to help,” Mrs Pimentel said. “It was especially great coming from a kid because they usually want to have a lot of toys and things like that.”
The family celebrated Lola’s sixth birthday at a mini-golf course recently. After all the donations poured in, her grandfather was able to hand over the donation to the SPCA on Tuesday.
Lola said she was “happy” to be able to assist the local charity and added: “I just wish that all the animals could have a home.”
The Bermuda SPCA currently has 16 cats, one rabbit and three dogs at the shelter.
They accept in kind donations or monetary gifts; but encourage people to call or find out what items are needed, by looking at their website and clicking on ‘Wish List’ under the donate tab.
By Nadia Arandjelovic The Royal Gazette