Most children would ask for an Xbox game, new clothes or maybe a pet for their birthdays.
Not 11-year-old Lake Cowichan youth, Jada Lee.
Instead, Lee enjoys getting cat food for a present.
Since she was seven, Lee has asked her party guests to bring cat food and treats for gifts, which she then donates to Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue. She chose to give back to the area’s feline population since the community has an over-abundance of feral cats.
On Dec. 9, Lee will celebrate her twelfth birthday with roughly fifteen friends. By the time her final guest had strolled in, Lee had a mountain of cat food that stacked far beyond her own height.
What’s amazing is that Lee has been doing this good deed for half a decade — nearly half the span of her whole life. Lee said she came up with idea after seeing a show on Animal Planet, which documented a California youth who did the same thing for whales.
“After that, I started wanting to do that,” said the grade two student.
“I love animals. I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up. I don’t really need anything like presents. I don’t really know what I would want for a present,” added Lee.
Despite her humble attitude, the child animal-lover joked, however, that a gift in the form of a pet would always be accepted.
Lee’s mother, Shannon, a local personal trainer could barely put in words how overjoyed she was her daughter was undertaking such a noble cause at such a young age.
“I’m extremely proud. And now a few of her friends are doing the same for their birthdays,” said Shannon.
And Lee’s friends have caught the drift of her pet philanthropist-like ways. Meaghan McKenzie and Amber Clayton are two of her friends who now do the same thing for their birthdays.
Cowichan Pet Emporium employee, Denise Lawler is another local adult taken aback at Lee’s mature attitude towards life.
“I think that for the age that she is it’s an amazing. For an 11-year-old to think of something other than herself is just amazing. And I think it’s a neat idea and it’s obviously something she feels so strongly about,” Lawler said.
For how many more years Lee will host such a birthday party remains unknown. One thing remains sure, however: Lee will be an animal-lover for life.