Alex Mastromonico is on a mission to help the homeless animals at the Aiken County Animal Shelter (ACAS). The nine-year-old heard about FOTAS’s “Have a Heart, Save a Heart” program, a fund which supplements the treatment of heartworm positive dogs at the shelter, and decided he wanted to pitch in to this life-saving effort.
With his birthday on the horizon, Alex asked his mom, Lori, if instead of getting presents this year, could he ask for money to go to the shelter dogs? And could he have a birthday party, where his friends could be asked to donate to FOTAS instead of bringing traditional party gifts? Oh, and could he personally deliver the donation to the shelter, so they could visit the animals?
“Of course, I said, ‘Yes,’” Lori said. “I was incredibly proud of him. Alex has never been materialistic, so this was the perfect way for him to celebrate his birthday.”
But for Alex, it was not enough. He told his aunt about what he was doing, and she helped him to take the mission to another level by setting up a temporary fundraising page on Facebook. In just weeks, Alex’s Facebook page and birthday party combined to raised $425 for FOTAS and the shelter dogs.
Alex has always loved animals “because they’re great company, unpredictable and fun,” and his family has three pets adopted from the ACAS – Bailee, a one-year-old Chihuahua mix, and kitten siblings Melania and Mingus. But what sparked his interest in animal advocacy was overhearing his mom talk about FOTAS.
Lori teaches fifth grade at Tall Pines STEM Academy and the school started a Junior FOTAS club this year with the assistance of FOTAS Programs Coordinator Kathy Jacobs. The students in Junior FOTAS meet after school to learn about different aspects of the ACAS and FOTAS. For their first meeting, Kathy brought a heartworm positive dog who was up for adoption and explained how heartworms are treated and how the “Have a Heart, Save a Heart” program saved about 200 dogs last year.
“Alex overheard me talking about the Junior FOTAS meetings, and his idea snowballed from there,” Lori said.
But what really motivates a boy to work so hard to make that idea come to fruition and miss the chance to be showered with gifts on his birthday? Is it the joy of giving? Is it to impress his family and friends?
“Well, I do feel very good about doing it,” Alex said. “But you can’t donate for any of those reasons. You have to do it with your whole heart. Not because someone tells you…it has to because you want to do it.”
Their lives are in our hands
by Bob Gordon, FOTAS Director of Communications
By the Numbers
Feb. 7 to 14: Find “the One” Valentine’s Special: Dogs & puppies $14, cats & kittens $0