While most children are anticipating new toys for their birthday, 8-year old Regan Lutz is planning her third annual donation drive for Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Huntington.
Lutz, a Levittown resident, started collecting items for the shelter after reading a news article where a young girl was fundraising for police dogs.
"My mom showed me something in Newsday about a girl who was raising money for bulletproof vests for police dogs," said Lutz. "I wanted to help animals."
When her 7th birthday rolled around, Lutz requested that all of her guests bring one item for animals at the shelter. After her first year of fundraising, Regan and her family founded Regan's Rescue and created a following through social media in attempts to expand their mission. From the shelter's wish list, Regan collects beds, food, toys, towels, mats and blankets for the shelter.
"Some people mail them in if they're not coming to my party, but the kids who are invited just bring them," she explained. "My friends and family donate also. Last year, we had enough to fill up an SUV."
This year's fundraising is extra special to Lutz as it is in honor of her own dog who recently passed away.
"This year I am collecting donations in memory of Cosette, who died on Feb. 9," Lutz said. "She was 13 years old. My family loved her and misses her very much."
Lutz's party isn't until March 12, but she has already collected two big bags of both new and used towels and an assortment of other items for the shelter. Her mother, Cheryl Lutz, said that Regan continues to impress her every day.
"This wasn't something that we suggested to her," Cheryl said. "She saw it and took it upon herself. I told her some of the things they may need at the shelter, but she collected them. I was very surprised and very proud. She never back pedaled or rethought the situation. This year, she's hoping to fill two cars with donations."