• 70°

Local student gives birthday presents to shelter animals

For the third year in a row, 12-year-old Layla Harwell is using her birthday to help her furry friends in need.

Harwell is a seventh-grader at Lafayette Middle School who said she enjoys playing soccer for the school’s junior varsity team. After regularly volunteering with Second Chance Animal Alliance in Water Valley, Harwell said she saw an opportunity to do some good for someone else.

“I like to volunteer at Second Chance, and they just really didn’t have some of the supplies they needed, so we were going to our house and getting supplies for them,” Harwell said. “One day, I thought, I could just raise money instead of getting birthday gifts, because there was really nothing I wanted.”

For the past two years, she’s raised about $500 a year for the shelter. This year, however, Harwell said she decided to up the ante with a goal of raising $1,000 by her birthday on Sept. 19.

Her mother, Jessica Harwell, said she wasn’t surprised by her daughter’s willingness to forgo physical gifts for the gratification of helping animals at Second Chance.

“I am always proud of Layla, but the selflessness she shows each year for her birthday blows me away,” Jessica said. “She is the most kind, caring, loving child I’ve ever seen. We could not be more proud.”

Those who wish to donate may do so by visiting the Facebook fundraiser page, “Layla’s Birthday Fundraiser for Second Chance Animal Alliance.” All proceeds will go directly to the shelter. Harwell also said she encouraged everyone who can to volunteer or be a foster parent for a pet.

Second Chance is also in need of physical items, including: Pedigree dog food, dog treats, paper towels, Clorox bleach, Lysol, Mr. Clean liquid cleaner, blankets (can be used), towels (can be used) and metal food and water bowls.

“I love animals,” Harwell said. “I love being around animals, and seeing all those animals in need makes me so sad, so I love to help them.”