A young Okotokian recently made a selfless decision on a day that was all about her.

Dr. Morris Gibson student Tessa Mak celebrated her ninth birthday in December, and when she was asked what she wanted, she gave a surprising answer.

Her father Matthijs says she wanted to help out some local animals in need.

“We asked her what she wanted to ask her friends for, and she just came up with the idea to donate to the animal shelter. We’ve always talked about acts of kindness, and I think she’s heard similar stories in the past that have inspired her, but she came up with this idea herself. Really proud of her.”

Several of her friends contributed $20, and Tessa ended up donating $140 in total to Pound Rescue.

Tessa has an affinity for animals, with a Goldendoodle at home and a love for horses.

She’d like to live on a farm when she grows up because she’d be surrounded by all sorts of animals and would have a ton of space to herself.

Her reasoning for her decision to forgo presents is both straightforward and insightful.

“Animals, they probably need help more than we need more gifts. If more people do it, then more people will think of animals and adopt them.”

Matthijs hopes this serves as an inspiration for people of all ages.

“That’s how we try to raise our kids, to be kind and giving. These kinds of stories, when people hear them, hopefully they inspire them. Talking to the Pound Rescue, they sound like they’re in need of lots of foster families and adoptions so hopefully this brings them some attention.”