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Birthday party goes to the dogs

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Madeline's birthday cake, complete with paw prints.
Madeline (back row in bright yellow shirt) with her friends at her recent birthday party.
The present table at Pump It Up is filled with dog and cat food.
Madeline Knee

Young girls asks for donations instead of presents

It wasn't hard for Madeline Knee's friends to pick out her birthday presents. She told them exactly what she wanted.

And, no, she didn't ask for CDs, clothes and the latest gadgets all 11-year-olds crave. Rather, this Gladeville Elementary School student asked for dog and cat food, as well as disinfectant spray and blankets.

Her birthday party invitation told her friends while they were going to have a great time at her party at Pump It Up on Valentine's Day, and all the presents would be dedicated to the animals at the Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter.

Madeline's mom, Angela, said she originated the idea, but noted her daughter took to it immediately.

"She's an only child, and I have to say she still had presents from Christmas she hasn't opened yet," she said. "Kids are given so much stuff these days, and she really didn't need anything more. I asked what she thought about her friends getting things for the animals at the shelter. She was all for it."

And, they did. About 20 children showed up to the party, and Madeline had a great time pulling all things dog and cat out of colorful gift bags.

"I really liked it, and it made me and everyone else feel good about helping the animals," said the newly minted 11-year-old. "It worked out great. Everyone enjoyed it."

Of course there was lots of ice cream and cake (decorated with paw prints). Angela said the kids had a blast. After the party, Madeline loaded up the stash of goodies and her father and mother drove her to the shelter.

"They were really thankful and told me how good I was," said Madeline. "I know the animals will love all the stuff."

She's an animal lover, and her pet Pomeranian, Princeton, is her "furry brother."

Shelter Volunteer Director Will Sellers said he was blown away by the generous gesture.

"I think it's wonderful someone that young would give up potential birthday presents...for the animals," he said. "Donations are especially needed these days. I hope this young lady is an inspiration for kids her age, or of any age, to do the same."

Madeline did smile when she mentioned that she did get a special personal present from her parents after the party.

"Taylor Swift tickets!" she said. "I think she's really nice and writes neat songs."

Swift would probably say "ditto."

Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at

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