One Mancos girl celebrated her birthday on Tuesday by giving a New Year’s present to the Cortez Animal Shelter.
Olivia Jukes, who turned 9 on Dec. 13, decided to ask her friends for animal supplies instead of presents at her birthday party this year. She and her mother, Tressa Jukes, delivered their collection of donated dog and cat food, toys, paper towels, blankets and other supplies to the shelter on Tuesday. Olivia has several pets at home, and is always wanting to adopt more, her mother said.
Tressa Jukes gave Olivia the idea of donating to the animal shelter, and she said the 9-year-old ran with it.
“I like animals, and it was around Christmas time, so I thought it’d be nice,” Olivia said. “I thought that the animals would really like it.”
Having a December birthday also made it easier to be generous.
“We figured Santa Claus would be bringing her plenty of presents for Christmas,” Tressa Jukes said.
Olivia said she and her friends had fun at her party, painting fairy houses and collecting the gifts. Olivia’s family also bought a few donations, and by Tuesday they had enough pet supplies to fill up the trunk of their car. Olivia added to the gift by drawing a picture of some dogs and cats playing together, which she gave to the shelter employees.
She and her family originally intended to drop the donations off the week before Christmas, but weather, work and the shelter’s closure for the holidays kept getting in the way. Both Tressa Jukes and the shelter director, Jennifer Crouse, said they were relieved they finally made it on Tuesday.
Even though the family has moved around – Olivia’s father, Les Jukes, is a retired member of the Coast Guard – they have always made room for pets in their lives. Jukes’s 17-year-old cat was adopted from a shelter, and they’ve adopted several dogs in the past.
“It’s a family thing,” Tressa Jukes said.
After delivering their gifts, Olivia and her mom spent time saying hello to the animals at the shelter – about a dozen dogs and a cat. They would both like to adopt another dog or cat someday, but Jukes said they have their hands full at the moment.
Olivia said she may donate to the shelter for her next birthday, too.