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A.D.O.P.T. cats, dogs benefit from 10 year old’s love for animals

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TribLocal Aurora
By Linda Kane, A.D.O.P.T. volunteer
March 1, 2011

Ten-year-old Madison Smith visits with Walt, one of the shelter’s dogs, after delivering two SUVs full of donations from her elementary school.

For 10-year-old Madison Smith, every season is the ‘season of giving.”

The Elmwood School fourth grader, who says she ‘LOVES animals,” recently spearheaded a donation drive to help the dogs and cats at Naperville’s A.D.O.P.T. (Animals Deserving of Proper Treatment) Pet Shelter.

‘She’s absolutely crazy about animals,” said Madison’s mom Kerin.

The Smith family includes two dogs of its own—5-year-old Lily and 4-month-old Bijou. ‘We’re kind of an animal household here,” Kerin said.

When Madison was a first grader, her mom says, she and a friend decided to paint pictures, sell them and donate the money raised, $83, to the Humane Society. ‘I knew then that she had it in her, that she really wanted to make a difference with animals,” Kerin said.

Today Madison continues to make a difference.

‘I came home from school one day, and my mom had this article on the counter about A.D.O.P.T.,” Madison said. ‘I shared [the article] with my class, and they really liked the idea of doing a donation drive at our school.”

After making a poster about the donation drive, Madison stopped Elmwood Principal Patrick Gaskin in the hall one day.

Gaskin said, ‘I [told her], ‘Madison, you have very creative ideas, and I want to encourage you. I think it’s a great idea. Why don’t you talk with the other kids involved and then come down and see me, and we can develop a plan.”

The drive was off and running.

In addition to hanging posters around the school building, Madison and her friend Nina Raab, a fellow fourth grader, promoted the drive on the school’s intercom every morning, which Madison says was ‘really fun.”

Gaskin also helped by sending out multiple emails via the Talk 203 message system to the Elmwood parents.

‘We asked parents for their support, and we had an overwhelming response right away,” Gaskin said. ‘Our kids and our parents were very excited and loved the opportunity to help our community.”

Approximately two weeks later, donations filled the school.

‘We collected a lot of toys for the dogs and the cats,” Madison said. ‘We collected a lot of food–10 or 11 boxes of food–a lot of treats and $75 in cash.”

With the help of their moms and two SUVs loaded with donations, Madison, Nina and two other classmates visited A.D.O.P.T., received a tour of the facility and even got to play with some of the animals.

A.D.O.P.T. volunteer Donna Picard welcomed the students and their moms to the shelter. ‘I was amazed by the ‘power of one,’ so to speak,” Picard said. ‘For a young girl to read a story, connect with its importance and then take action to get others on board with her mission clearly shows both passion and compassion.

‘This is what a humane organization like A.D.O.P.T. is all about. I want kids to know that they can make an impact, that age doesn’t matter.”

As for the immediate future, Madison says ‘she would definitely do [another drive].”

In her adult future, Madison is considering two animal-related careers: a trainer of beluga whales at Sea World or a horse trainer. She also enjoys singing and acting.

Whatever she chooses, one thing is certain: ‘Madison is a great kid,” Gaskin said. ‘Her whole personality is contagious. She can rally the troops just by being herself. She’s going to do great things in life—there’s no doubt.”

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