Eight-year-old fundraisers for pets

What were you doing when you were eight years old? Did you orchestrate an independent fundraising campaign to help homeless pets, complete with a presentation to your student council?

Eight-year-old Violet Schultz presenting a check to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to help the animalsThat's exactly what Violet Schultz did. She is one innovative young lady who loves animals so much that she has already dedicated much of her life to helping them. The Schultz family shares their home with rescued pets of every stripe: dogs, cats, rats, mice, a bearded dragon and a finch. So when it came time to pick out a spring break destination with her mom, Sheila, you may think that Violet might have wanted a break from caring for animals and chosen a place like Disneyland, but, no, she had another place in mind.

Student cents: Raising money for homeless pets

The Schultz family was introduced to the work of Best Friends Animal Society from the show "DogTown." "We watched all of the episodes and then read all the books," shares Sheila. "So when I asked (Violet) where she wanted to go for spring break, and she said Best Friends, it wasn't a surprise."

What was a surprise was when Violet approached her mom about wanting to do a donation drive for the animals at the Sanctuary at her school. After obtaining permission from the student council, Violet placed "Pennies for Pets" donation buckets in each classroom. Every Friday after school, Violet collected the money. Sheila also enlisted the help of her classmates to help finish 30 cat beds that she had sewn (the kids knotted all the edges). Violet collected almost $300 and made 30 cat beds, which are as decorative as they are comfy, to take to the Sanctuary with her mom. But not before lending their Best Friends books to one of Violet's teachers. "She's a donor now too," says Sheila, smiling.

Violet Schultz and her classmates who raised money for Best Friends Animal Society

A memorable vacation volunteering with animals

Violet and her mom had a wonderful trip to the Sanctuary. They especially loved volunteering with the animals.

Sheila also says, "Violet loved the sleepovers. We had two nights with Vladimir and Julius, two wonderful cats. … And we had one night with two sleepover rabbits - Lisa and Snoopy. As you can imagine, Violet was over the moon."

Violet Schultz with Bob the cat at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

One of Violet's favorite activities was walking the cats outside. She wants to return to the Sanctuary for Halloween, so she can take Bob trick-or-treating. With our cage-free areas where the cats live, Violet said the residents of Cat World seemed to be so happy and free.

Once they were home, Violet made a Best Friends photo album to share with her classmates. "Violet had such a great time," says Sheila. "She definitely wants to go back."

Giving another cat a home

It was bittersweet once Sheila and Violet got home. Their trip was over, and sadly one of their cats, Mr. Bubbles, passed away. They decided to give another pet-in-waiting a home, and decided to adopt from Best Friends. By working with the adoption department, they got their short list of potential adoptive cats down to two and decided to adopt Honda.

Arriving by airplane on April 30, Honda, now named Tsunami, has settled in with her new family. "Best Friends matched the perfect cat to us," says Sheila. "She just walked around and fit right in. She was the easiest of introductions. It was important to keep the connection with Best Friends."

Violet was thrilled when she was checking out the Best Friends website, her "go to" site, and saw Honda was moved from "adoptable" to "adopted."

The Schultz family says visiting Best Friends helped create lifelong memories, but it's the compassion of one young girl that has made a lasting impression on us.

Interested in helping animals? Here are some options.

Photos courtesy of Sheila Schultz