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11-year-old girl donates to pet store that helps low-income families, including her own

December 28, 2018

11-year-old girl donates to pet store that helps low-income families, including her own

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Eleven-year-old Tiffany Everhart fidgets while waiting in a line of customers at the Neighborhood Pets store in Slavic Village.

When she gets to the counter, she plunks down a plastic bag full of pennies without a word of explanation. The confused cashier looks at the pennies, then at the little girl, who smiles before finally speaking.

“It’s to help the pets,” Tiffany proclaims.

The bag contains 407 pennies. Tiffany has spent all of 2018 collecting the coins, mostly from sidewalks, with the intent of making a donation to this special shop.

Neighborhood Pets is a program of the Friends of the Cleveland Kennel, a nonprofit that helps low-income families keep their pets by offering affordable care, such as spaying and neutering, as well as resources and education.

“Our human clients have one thing in common: they love their pets,” says Becca Britton, the agency’s executive director. “They play such an amazing supportive role in people’s physical and emotional health — and people who live in poverty struggle with so many things that often having a pet is a real bright spot in their life. The ability to have that joy shouldn’t be based on income.”

If not for Neighborhood Pets, the Everharts could not afford to care for their dog, Einstein, and Tiffany’s hamster, Alexander. Tiffany’s father, Isaac, is unable to work because of a back injury. Her mother, Violet, works in a factory, but her hours have been cut significantly.

The family’s usually tight budget is under a particular strain of late because of Tiffany’s tonsillectomy. While the family has health insurance, the deductible is $2,600, a sum that is covered only by cutting back on groceries and delaying payment of other bills.

 So, Tiffany is grateful to Neighborhood Pets, and hopes her donation will allow another low-income family to have a pet.

“I don’t know what I would do without my pets,” she explains to a reporter. “I want someone else to have a pet to snuggle with or get a happy greeting from when they come home at night. It can make even the worst day go away.”

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