By REBECCA NIEMINEN SLOAN
Most 7-year-olds can’t wait to receive piles of gifts at their birthday parties, but Alex Sandford of Fowler is not your typical 7-year-old.
When Alex turned 7 on June 9, in lieu of presents, he requested that party guests donate food and other necessary items to the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County and Cats Are People Too, another local animal-rescue organization.
“He really loves animals, and has a giving heart,” said Alex’s mom, Tara Sandford. “A few years ago we attended a birthday party where one of Alex’s friends donated to the Warren Family Mission instead of receiving birthday gifts, and that really inspired Alex to do something generous, too.”
Kerry Pettit, executive director of the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County, said Alex’s donations included several bags of cat and dog food, pet treats and cleaning supplies.
“Our organization relies solely on donations, so we are so appreciative of Alex and of all of the individuals who donate to us,” Pettit said. “We are so thankful for what this young man did. What a wonderful tribute to pay it forward.”
This is not the first time Alex has let his charitable spirit shine.
When Alex turned 6, he asked friends and family to donate books to the Howland Library in lieu of presents.
“We are very proud of him, and we were really surprised and overwhelmed at the amount of stuff that people brought to donate when they came to his party this year,” said Tara while showing a photo of the mounds of pet food and pet-care items friends and family brought to Alex’s party. “We have a large family, so we really got a lot of stuff.”
Alex’s generosity has made him a bit of a local celebrity, but despite being thrust into the limelight, the Alex remains cheerfully humble.
“I just like to do nice things for the animals,” he said as he shared details about his beloved pet cats, Chester and Cocoa.
Tara said she and her husband, Stephen, never expected their son to receive media attention.
“We didn’t do this for attention. We really just wanted to inspire others to donate to animal-rescue organizations,” Tara said. “We encourage people to give back whenever possible. It’s something we believe in very strongly.”