A Gift for the Animals

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Galen Selbert-Perkins (left) made a $720 donation to officer Mario Guzman on behalf of the the Agoura Hills Animal Shelter through nonprofit Healthcare for Homeless Animals with friend Maxine Kelly (center).

While most kids are thinking about getting the next Xbox or Playstation, 10-year-old Malibu resident Galen Selbert-Perkins and her parents thought a donation to the local animal shelter would be the greatest and most meaningful gift this year.

For her 10th birthday, Galen requested that, instead of birthday presents, a donation be made toward the Agoura Hills Animal Shelter from her guests. 

“My daughter really loves the animals and Agoura is the biggest shelter in this area,” Robin Perkins, Galen’s mother, shared. “We know people who’ve adopted from them. She was turning 10 and we just discussed it and and talked about how she didn’t need any more toys.” 

Robin and Galen went to the shelter, talked to the front desk about the idea and took a tour of the property. Besides cats and dogs, Agoura also has holding areas for larger animals, such as horses, in the back.

About 100 people, at least 50 of whom were children, showed up to Galen’s birthday party at their home in Point Dume. The party generated $720 in donations, and another $90 was collected in the days following Galen’s birthday.

“After awhile you don’t want to ask people for toys and gifts,” Robin said. “On the e-vite, we explained that Galen wished for a small donation for the animal shelter. She made a poster and had a mason jar. People’s generosity was outstanding.”

The Agoura Hills shelter cannot accept donations directly, so Healthcare for Homeless Animals, a nonprofit that funds medical care for shelter animals, accepted the donation on behalf of the shelter.

“This is the first step in developing a social conscience for our daughter,” Robin said. “Around this time is when they start thinking outside of their own needs and desires. The idea is that you can help animals and other people.”

And the shelter seemed happy to accept the donation.

“We’re very grateful to the families and parents who encourage their kids to give back to the community,” Denise Rosen, Manager at the Agoura Hills Animal Shelter said. “We’re quite thrilled that this trend is becoming very popular. We think it’s awesome because the money helps the animals at the shelter.”

Galen has also extended her efforts to her school, where she is a member of the student council, by proposing to invite the Healthcare for Homeless Animals organization to her school for a presentation.

“I’m happy those animals are getting healthy,” Galen explained. “I took a tour of the shelter and there are horses, bunnies, goats, chickens and tortoises — not just cats and dogs. I’m happy the money I collected is helping the animals at the Agoura Hills Animal Shelter. I’m thankful to all my friends who donated money to help the animals.”

Although big birthday parties aren’t in the plans every year, if they are, Galen and her parents plan on thinking about another cause to assist.

“The support that we’ve received from the other parents and students was wonderful,” Robin shared. “The other parents were very happy to participate. It does take a community and we have such a supportive community here. We really couldn’t have done it without them.”