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Examiner
  • Kaitie Zerr shows her love of creatures, great and small

  • Kaitie Zerr doesn’t have a favorite animal.

    She loves all of them.


    For Kaitie’s 11th birthday in September, the Independence fifth grader at William Yates Elementary School thought she might ask for a few presents, but mostly she wanted to give canned food, towels and other necessities to the Independence Animal Shelter.

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  • Kaitie Zerr doesn’t have a favorite animal.
    She loves all of them.
    For Kaitie’s 11th birthday in September, the Independence fifth grader at William Yates Elementary School thought she might ask for a few presents, but mostly she wanted to give canned food, towels and other necessities to the Independence Animal Shelter.
    Kaitie did more than that. Through giveforward.com, a personal fundraising website, Kaitie’s Kritters collected $834.46 for the Independence Animal Shelter. Kaitie presented Animal Services staff with the check on Friday morning. Kaitie’s Aunt Patti set up the account, also spreading the word to her followers on Twitter.
    “It’s pretty amazing that someone so young can accomplish such a big thing and understand a real need for it,” Animal Field Services Supervisor Jennifer Polston said.
    Contributors left many messages of encouragement and support for Kaitie, calling her an inspiration for children and adults alike.
    “This is a beautiful thing you are doing,” wrote Kirsten on the “hugs” section. “I wish everyone in the world were as selfless and kind as you. The world would be a much better place. Thank you for giving me hope for our future, Kaitie. I do hope you reach your goals and have the most spectacularly awesome birthday ever!”
    This isn’t Kaitie’s first time giving back to the Independence Animal Shelter. In third grade, she raised $75.68, asking children in her class and teachers to give to her cause. She had a goal of $75 and drew a thermometer at home to track her progress.
    “Dear Reader, I am writing to tell you what this money is for,” reads a letter that accompanied Kaitie’s third-grade donation. “This money is to get more cages and food for the animals. It took a long time to raise this much money. I hope this money helps.”
    Also a fan of the Kansas City Zoo, Kaitie once gave $50 of her Christmas money and “adopted” a meerkat. She also participated in the Keeper for a Day program at the zoo, feeding animals and sweeping the goats’ pen, “which was actually kind of fun,” Kaitie says, smiling.
    “She’s a self-starter in every way – this is all her,” says Kaitie’s mother, Kristine Zerr.
    Kaitie says she tries to visit the Animal Shelter at least once a year, but her trips to the pet store take place weekly. At age 12, she’d like to start volunteering at the shelter with the help of an adult, since unsupervised volunteers must be at least 14 years old.
    “Right now, she’s doing everything she can to help and volunteer without actually being here at the shelter,” Polston said, “and that’s very amazing.”
    She isn’t sure of an exact career yet, but when Kaitie grows up, she wants to do something animal-related like a zoo keeper or veterinarian.
    Page 2 of 2 - “She has become an inspiration amongst the family,” Kaitie’s father, Jonathan Zerr, says. “It is entirely her doing. This is her personal love and joy.”
    A father turns to his oldest daughter and asks, “Was it worth it?”
    Kaitie, smiling, replied, “Yeah.”
    “Think you’ll do it again?” Jonathan Zerr continues.
    Kaitie smiles and nods faster. “Yeah.”
     

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