More often than not, children look forward to presents on their birthday, but for the last two years, 8-year old Regan Lutz used her gifts as a chance to help animals.
This past weekend, Lutz delivered her second annual donation to Little Shelter Animal Rescue in Huntington after requesting her friends bring gifts for animals to her birthday party instead of for her.
"The idea to collect for the shelter started when Regan was six," explained her mother, Cheryl Lutz. "I read an article to her from Newsday about a girl who collected money to buy bulletproof vests for police dogs. Regan said that she wanted to collect money to buy bulletproof vests for the dogs at Little Shelter. Together we discussed what the animals probably did need [and] she decided for her upcoming birthday party she would ask all her friends to bring gifts for the animals."
Since she started fundraising last year, Regan and her family have founded Regan's Rescue and created a following through social media to collect even more for the animals of Little Shelter. From the shelter's wish list, Regan gathered beds, food, snacks and toys for the animals in addition to towels, mats and blankets for the shelter.
"Regan asked if we could make a website and Facebook page in order to reach out to more people," Cheryl said. "By planning and organizing we increased the amount of donations this year."
At such a young age, Regan has seen a gracious response from both the people at Little Shelter and her supporters.
"It's been wonderful," Cheryl said. "Last year we didn't tell Little Shelter what Regan was doing, but they were very warm and welcoming to her. They made her feel very special."
When she's not studying or donating her time for animals, Regan is busy forming a career as an actress-model and has earned roles in movies, television and theater. Cheryl said that her life as an aspiring performer has built an even more generous character.
"We are often in Manhattan and [Regan] sees people living on the street or in Penn Station," she said. "We have stopped to give money or even buy food for them. I think it gives her a sense of appreciation for the life she has."
You can learn more about Regan's Rescue by visiting their website.