Two youngsters who spent the summer collecting and redeeming thousands of cans and bottles, then organized a large pizza party, brought the fruits of their labor – $1,300 – to the SPCA Serving Erie County on Monday.
The industrious Kilcoyne boys from Lake View – Brennen, 11, and Evan, 9 – were accompanied by their parents, John and Shannon Kilcoyne, their younger brother Liam, 5, and the godparents of all three boys, Gale and Robert Major.
The boys clutched a large plastic jar containing folded wads of bills, several checks and a pile of change.
The boys originally planned to stop at a pet supply store to buy some items on the SPCA’s wish list, including treats, toys, beds, leashes, collars, food and water bowls. But after the family learned that the SPCA has a pet-supply store, the Petique, whose profits are donated to the SPCA, they decided to make their purchases there.
“They’re little boys; they didn’t want to just turn over [all] cash,” said their father. After the boys made their selections, with input from Sandy Jeffers, assistant director of humane education at the SPCA, their father counted out $625.97 to pay for the items, which were donated to the SPCA along with the rest of the money collected.
“When I see children doing this, it makes me so look forward to the future,” said Gina Browning, the SPCA’s director of public relations. “This is just one example of all the children we see every year. They could have done anything with their money, spent it on electronic games, or even given it to another worthwhile cause, but I see them wanting to be kind to animals, which is so wonderful. It gives me hope.”
Browning said it has become more common for youngsters to request donations to the SPCA instead of gifts for their birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs and other occasions. “They either ask for cash donations for us,” she said, “or they ask people to look at our wish list,” which can be seen under the “ways to give" heading at www.yourspca.org.
“We never thought they would raise this much,” said Shannon Kilcoyne. “We do think it’s important to teach the boys to give back.”
The Kilcoyne boys’ plan to raise funds for the SPCA began in the spring, after they had a conversation with the Majors about charity. Their discussions about what charity meant led them to plan a fundraiser, with the Majors providing $200 in seed money to set up and carry out fundraisers. In May, the boys delivered a flier to each neighbor’s door, asking for donations of cans and bottles. This began a summerlong effort that included several trips, with their family van stuffed full, to redeem the bottles and cans.
Last year, Brennen also spoke to the entire fifth-grade class at Pinehurst Elementary, asking them to bring in bottles and cans.
“I thought that I was just going to talk in front of my class,” he said, but the entire grade assembled. Although he was nervous about speaking to such a large group, Brennen said, “It was OK. They’re all my friends, too.”
The boys planned a fundraising pizza party in mid-September. They asked for donations from area businesses, including Tops, which donated all the soda and water that would be sold. They also got a discount on pizza from Now Pizza, and other donations from Sam’s Club, Nino’s and Blasdell Pizza.
“They wrote, practiced and delivered all the speeches requesting help themselves,” said John Kilcoyne.
On the day of the party, the boys sold pizza, chips and a drink for $5 and added special chocolate suckers in the shape of a paw print, which they made themselves.
Between pizza sales, a prize drawing and checks from people who could not make the party, the boys collected $886 to add to the $400 in redeemed cans and bottles. They were preparing to bring their collected total of $1,286 to the SPCA, but last-minute donations of cans and bottles brought the total to an even $1,300.
Brennen is now a sixth-grader at Franklin Middle School, while Evan, the “salesman” of the pair, is a fourth-grader at Pinehurst Elementary. Liam, who is in kindergarten at Pinehurst, contributed by inviting several friends to the pizza party.
By the end of their visit, which included a tour of the SPCA, the boys were buzzing about what they will do next.
“We are probably going to raise money for a charity every year,” Brennen said.