(COMPASSIONATE LIVING) Kaitlyn Graziano, a New Jersey teen, chose to have a compassionate birthday. Instead of asking for fancy birthday gifts, Kaitlyn asked her family and friends to get pet supplies, and then donated them to a local animal shelter. If you’d like to do the same, simply go to the website of the animal shelter of your choice and see their donation wish list. Read more to find out more about this teen’s inspiring birthday idea. — Global Animal
Shelters need more donations like these. Photo credit: yalsa50 via flickr

Today’s Sunbeam, Brittany M. Wehner

PENNSVILLE TWP. — While most kids hope to receive iPods, iPhones or other types of presents for their birthday, one local teen recently asked for pet supplies on her special day and then donated the gifts to a local animal shelter to help animals in need there.

Kaitlyn Graziano, a seventh-grade student at Mannington Township School, recently turned 13-years-old on March 2 and celebrated her birthday by giving back to the community.

Kaitlyn watched her living room fill up with large amounts of pet supplies, dog and cat food, toys, leashes, and other items during her birthday party last month and then she later dropped off the items to the Salem County Humane Society.

“I was amazed, there was a lot of stuff,” she said recently while recalling the party. The teenager said the idea to collect items for the shelter came after she was looking on the humane society website and came across a list of donation needs.

“I thought, What if I do this for my birthday instead. We’ve always gone to the Salem County Human Society and that’s how I thought of if,” Kaitlyn said.

According to her mom, Cindy, invitations were sent out asking for pet supplies and pet item donations in place of a birthday gift and the turnout was overwhelming.

Between five and six 5-gallon tote bags were filled with pet items, Cindy said.

“I have people that I work with that weren’t invited to the party but knew what Kaitlyn was doing so they brought more stuff in,” Cindy said.

About 35 family members and friends gathered on March 10 to celebrate Kaitlyn’s birthday with arms full of items.

“Instead of opening gifts, we sat and looked at everything,” Kaitlyn said.

Kaitlyn and her mom joked about taking several trips in and out of the shelter because of the amount of donations.

“They were happy. They love getting donations. I have pride that I did it,” Kaitlyn said. “My grandparents are still talking about it. They were happy that I was doing something like that.”

Her mom added that everyone in the family was proud of Kaitlyn’s decision.

“They were all touched for a 13-year-old girl to do something that is so nice,” Cindy said.

Kaitlyn said that she wants to try and do something again for her birthday next year and added that it’s important for young people to get involved with volunteering and helping out local organizations.

Kaitlyn and her mom smiled saying that animals need love too.

“Animal shelters don’t have a lot of money. You can do anything to help animal shelters or any organizations,” Kaitlyn said. “People can volunteer their time at shelters.”

Although she doesn’t know what she wants to do when she gets older, Kaitlyn said she wants to be involved with animals.

Kaitlyn has lived in Pennsville Township her entire life with her brother Joey, 11, and her parents Cindy and Jim Graziano.

More Sunbeam News: http://www.nj.com/sunbeam-news/index.ssf/2012/04/pennsville_teen_celebrates_bir.html