FREMONT, Mich. - Makaila Smith loves animals. She has three dogs at home and dreams of one day having many more pets, including a snapping turtle and a horse.
This year, the six-year-old has decided to throw a "dog and cat party" for her 7th birthday, to collect donations for local animal shelter, Bellwether Harbor.
"I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, and she's like 'Mom I don't need anything,'" explained her mother Heather Smith. "She's like 'Mom, I want to help the animals', so we went with it."
When asked why she's decided to help animals instead of asking for gifts for herself, Makaila simply said "because the animals don't have homes", and added that she hoped her efforts made them "happy".
Bellwether Harbor has donated its massive training room to the Smith family, so Makaila can hold her party on site.
"It seems like every kid wants the newest and greatest electronic, or phone or whatever it is," said Wendy Sinicki, the Development Director at Bellwether. "For her to do this, it's amazing to me. And she's only turning seven."
Sinicki said the non-profit shelter relies on grants and donations to operate. Some early donations have already been dropped off at the facility in Makaila's honor, and Sinicki said all the little girl's help will be "huge".
"As you can imagine, we go through a lot of toys," she told FOX 17 News. "You have no idea how it helps out our food budget, because the biggest part of our budget is taking care of these [animals] and you want the very best for them."
Since spreading the news of Facebook about her party, Makaila has also received some donations in advance.
"She actually got a couple of cash donations that she was able to go and buy stuff and she loves throwing everything in the cart. If she had a million dollars, she would buy everything on the shelf," said her mother. "And, we've also bought a lot of our own, with what we would be spending on her presents and party."
From her outfit, to the party favors and games, the theme is entirely about the animals, with lots of special touches planned for the 50+ guests that are expected to attend.
"We're going to do a dog and cat photobooth, we're going to do puppy chow and actually put some of the food and candy favors in dog dishes," explained Heather. "Just hoping that we can get awareness, that not only here at Bellwether, but there are a lot of animals that dont have homes and aren't taken care of."
"[Makaila's] heart is just so huge for the animals," said Sinicki. "She's so young to be so philanthropic, and that's just a beautiful thing."
Makaila's party will be held Saturday, February 24th at Bellwether Harbor from 1-4pm. Her actual birthday is the next day.
Donations can be dropped of during that time, or when the shelter is open during the week. For more information, click here.
As the Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Smith is receiving a $300 dollar prize.