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Girl skips birthday presents, donates items to dog shelter

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Inspired by her new dog and the movie “Pay It Forward,” a Cape Vincent girl skipped birthday presents this year and instead collected money and supplies for the Jefferson County Dog Shelter, 21897 County Route 190.

“I didn’t want anything, and I didn’t need anything, so I wanted to help others,” said Kerrigan C. Wiley.

On June 5, she and her family donated a large collection of dog beds, dishes, blankets, collars, biscuits and bones worth more than $400 collected at a fundraiser for Kerrigan’s 11th birthday, which was May 2.

“There was nothing that wouldn’t be used here in the department,” said Todd L. Cummings, county dog control office supervisor. “Everything pertained to the dogs.”

Kerrigan’s party guests also donated $75 in checks to the shelter.

Kerrigan and her family picked up a 2-year-old Labrador mix, Otis, from the shelter about six months ago after they lost their previous dog last year.

“She said, ‘I wanted to give back to where Otis came from,’” said Dorian C. Eyles, Kerrigan’s mother.

Mrs. Eyles said the effort quickly turned into a family project for her husband, Jonathan L., and Kerrigan’s siblings, Kali E. Eyles, 15, Ashlyn L. Eyles, 12, and Brayden Wiley, 8.

She said several of her daughter’s classmates brought items to the fundraiser, and several members of the Cape Vincent United Methodist Church also chipped in.

“Our van was completely full,” Mrs. Eyles said, and they used her sister’s SUV to carry the rest of the donated items.

Kerrigan, who will enter sixth grade at Thousand Islands Middle School in September, said she remembered the shelter’s staff being shocked at the donated items. “They were all smiling,” she said.

Mrs. Eyles voiced pride in her daughter for her generosity.

“She’s an amazing young girl,” Mrs. Eyles said. “I’m amazed with her ability to see beyond herself and see the need to help others.”

Following the donation, Mrs. Eyles said, people have continued calling her home to ask about bringing new items to the shelter.

Mr. Cummings said the shelter had previously received two similar birthday donations from area youths, but Kerrigan’s was the first for 2013. He said the office was creating a thank-you note to send to Kerrigan and her family.

The Times learned about the donation in an email message from a Watertown resident who had seen Kerrigan make her donation.

Mrs. Eyles said Kerrigan’s gift may not be the last such project for the family. She said Brayden, who will turn 9 in July, wants a collection at his birthday for a local food pantry.

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