Girl’s birthday present: A gift of love to dogs, cats in local no-kill shelter

By Tara Drach

Some children seem to have a more compassionate understanding of the world and the people in it than many of the adults one encounters throughout the daily grind.

Such a child is 8- year-old Chandler resident Stephanie Yamamoto.

When Stephanie celebrated her birthday in late July she didn’t ask for the newest Barbie or the latest Harry Potter book. Instead, she asked that her guests bring dog and cat food for donation at The Animal Welfare League, a local non-kill animal shelter.

More than 15 people attended the party, bearing bags of dog chow and cans of cat food.

“I really like animals,” said the youngster. “I wanted to help them. It isn’t fair to dogs and cats that their owners don’t take care of them.”

Stephanie, the proud owner of a Beta fish and a snake, hopes to have a dog of her own someday.

This isn’t the first birthday that Stephanie put others ahead of herself. For her seventh birthday, she had her friends bring unwrapped toys to donate to victims of the Rodeo-Chediski fires.

The year before that, party patrons brought items for needy children.

“Stephanie has always been very compassionate, giving and loving,” said her proud mother Terri.

“We want to raise her with the idea that every little thing that you do makes a difference.”

Stephanie and her mother are growing out their gorgeous, thick, dark hair for Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that makes wigs out of donated natural hair for children who have lost their hair due to medical conditions. 

Stephanie, a member of the Girl Scouts, recently held a successful penny drive with her troop and donated the money to the Blankets and Bears program, where firefighters give the much needed comfort items to children who have lost everything in house fires.

Always looking for ways to help others, Stephanie will continue her donated gift birthday parties in addition to any other ways she can help her community. “We got a good one,” beamed her mother.