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‘Mini-Betty White,’ 12, raises funds for Kent Animal Shelter

When Lisa Marie Bohleber suggested a fundraiser after her 12-year-old daughter Makayla went into her room one night upset thinking about animals in shelters, she didn’t expect to collect as much as she did.

“We’re both surprised with how much we raised,” Ms. Bohleber said.

According to Ms. Bohleber, they collected over $400 in donations, dog and cat food, blankets and towels. 

“I was able to buy about 300 pounds of dog/cat food, dog toys, cat litter and more blankets,” she said.

The family made the generous donation to Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton on Monday, Feb. 21.

Linda Macdonald, who has been the office manager at Kent Animal Shelter for 10 years, said she didn’t expect this kind of donation. “These kinds of donation drives keep us going for months,” she said.

“This is life changing for us. This will feed so many dogs, so many cats, we have cat litter, we have blankets, we have everything here, even cleaning supplies, which are essential to the shelter.”

Ms. Bohleber said Makayla has always been empathetic and thoughtful.

“She’s very empathetic,” Ms. Bohleber said. “She was like, ‘they must feel bad,’ ‘They don’t have a home,’ ‘they don’t have anyone to take care of them in a warm place,’ ‘do you think they’ll get adopted?’ She’s very thoughtful like that,” she said.

Makayla said she just wants to help other dogs get the life her family gives their two dogs.

“I was just sitting with my animals and seeing how, they’re lucky that they have homes and they’re loved,” Makayla said. “I want every dog to feel that way, I can’t adopt every dog in the world, but I wanted to help out … we’ve got a lot of toys and blankets so they can be comfortable, and I hope they get adopted into a loving home,” she said.

Makayla typed up a flyer promoting the fundraiser, which Ms. Bohleber, a teacher at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School, shared in an email to her colleagues. She also reached out to a Helping Makes U Happy, a Center Moriches-based nonprofit founded by Keith Caputo, a young man with Down syndrome, and asked them to share the flyer on their social media as well.

“So it just spread like everywhere,” Ms. Bohleber said.

To raise the funds, Makayla sold bracelets, which Ms. Bohleber said Makayla had friends who joined in on the endeavor.

“Even her friends wanted to make bracelets to sell,” Ms. Bohleber said. “They had no other way to donate, so that’s what they did.”

She also sold bags of Valentine’s Day candy, which also went towards the donation. As if organizing the fundraiser with her mother wasn’t enough, Ms. Bohleber said Makayla also put in at least $200 of her own saved money as well.

“I am just really proud of her… I call her my mini-Betty White. She’s always thinking about others, animals,” Ms. Bohleber said. “She’s amazing.”