Sixth graders Anna Yaksich and Sydni Henley of Colfax Upper Elementary have set a lofty goal for themselves: to raise $25,000 for Animal Friends. So far, they have raised over $15,000! Recently, they were awarded first place in the national Youth Jefferson Award in the “Animal Rights” category for their ongoing fundraising work for Animal Friends.
In the summer of 2008, then seven-year old Anna Yaksich watched an episode of Oprah on the cruelty and mistreatment of dogs at puppy mills. She was shocked and saddened but the episode inspired her to act. She decided then that she had to do something to help. She called her best friend Sydni Henley, and the two of them got to work raising money to help the animals. They started off with a lemonade stand and raised $200 that summer for Animal Friends.
They set a goal of $400 in 2009 and far exceeded that by hosting several events with their friends and neighbors, including game nights, an ice cream social, and raffling off a handmade quilt. They raised $1,250 that year. They purchased a brick in Animal Friends’ patio inscribed with the words “For the Love of All Animals.” “For the Love of All Animals” has been their inspirational phrase ever since.
In 2010 they held their biggest and most creative fundraiser, a dog wedding. Anna’s goldendoodle, Toby, married his puppy pal, Sadie, in front of 100+ friends and family members and raised over $4,000! Last year’s event “Polish Your Paws” brought in over $2,700.
Their donations and creative fundraising has grabbed the attention of local media, netting the girls featured articles in newspapers and appearances on Animal Friends’ Annual telethon. They also were honored with Allegheny Valley School District’s “Extra Mile Award” and won Animal Friends’ Humane Helper Award for 2011.
So far, the total amount raised by this dynamic duo is over $15,000 and they show no signs of stopping! Anna and Sydni want to make a difference in the lives of helpless animals by supporting Animal Friends. The two hope to raise $25,000 by the time they graduate high school.