For his 11th birthday this year, Ryan Miller of Green Springs asked his family and friends to make donations to the Humane Society of Seneca County instead of bringing presents.
Ryan said the idea came from his mother, Erin Miller. After the oldest brother's birthday party last August, she remarked they really didn't need any more presents. She suggested choosing a charity they liked and asking for donations instead of gifts.
"We weren't so sure about it at first, but then my younger brother picked Back to the Wild in April. He and his friends had so much fun gathering donations, and he was so happy, that I wanted to, too," Ryan said. "So, I like animals and pets, so we picked the Seneca County Humane Society. And me and my friends had a lot of fun, too."
Although Ryan's actual birthday is June 4, he had his party before school ended, while his classmates had not yet started summer vacations and activities.
Erin said she had heard about other children collecting for charities and made the suggestion to her boys. She said people could bring money or supplies they picked out. Ryan was more excited about it after his brother Myles had his party.
"I wasn't going to force them," Erin said, "They thought about it for awhile. ... My youngest, his class actually went to Back to the Wild for a field trip this year, so that was fresh in his memory."
Ryan has a dog, PJ, and a pig and calf for 4-H, so he decided on the Humane Society to benefit from his party. Erin said about 42 people attended, including classmates from Old Fort School and a few cousins. They raised $260.25, along with a load of supplies.
"I had a party about two weeks ago, and everyone brought money or dog food and supplies. Then I got to deliver all the stuff and see the cats and dogs that I was helping, and it made me very happy and glad to help them," Ryan said.
Erin said the oldest brother, Weston, also wants to help a charity, but he hasn't decided which one.
She said she and her husband, Tony, were pleased Ryan's party generated interest. Erin said the parties have become an opportunity to give instead of get more for themselves.
"I even asked them after the fact, 'Do you wish you had presents now?' Both of them have said 'no' and never even thought twice about it," Erin said. "They really do get it, and I'm very proud of them."
Ryan is to start sixth grade at Old Fort in August.