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story.lead_photo.caption Pictured, from left, are Jordan Asman, her sister Hollis Asman and their friends, Mica Hansen, Braven Hansen, Brydn Hansen and Nia Hansen. Jordan, 12, recently celebrated her birthday by donating supplies and toys to Cabot Animal Support Services.

— Jordan Asman of Cabot is the oldest of her four siblings and helps raise the chickens, goats and mini horses on her family’s property. It is her job to take care of the animals every day. So when she came up with the idea of celebrating her recent birthday by donating items to Cabot Animal Support Services, it wasn’t much of a surprise to her mom, Katie Asman.

“She came up with it,” Asman said. “We don’t do parties every year, so I wanted to make sure she was truly OK with it. She said she had enough stuff, and she wanted to give to others. So during the party, we also made toys for the animals.”

Jordan, 12, celebrated her birthday on Dec. 19. She said she felt like the animals needed the things more than she did.

“I had heard of doing that and how people felt about it, and it took me many months, but I thought I should do it, too,” Jordan said. “I have loved cats since I knew what they actually were! They are not my favorite animal, per se, but I have always thought they were cute, powerful and amazing animals.

“I do not have any cats, but maybe I will in the future.”

Jordan said she and her friends and family donated dog food and cat food to the shelter and also made dog toys out of old shirts and cat toys out of yarn and feathers. She said they also donated cat litter to the shelter.

“This was the first time we have done anything like this, but she has talked about wanting to help others,” Asman said of Jordan. “She loves animals, so that’s why she picked the animal shelter. It was all her — I did not influence her decision.

“We often donate to our church, which helps out people in need, and we do service projects through it. Our church uses the JustServe website to see what projects are in the area.”

Asman said her family has not done a service party before, but Jordan’s brother and two sisters were very excited to help their big sister.

“Jordan is a very good example to them,” Asman said.

“She can be shy, but she is a good student and works hard,” Asman said. “She didn’t want to make a big deal of donating to the shelter, but she just wanted to do it because it is a good thing to do. … When we give back to the community, it helps us feel a part of it and makes the community a better place, not only for my family, but others.”

Brandy Buie, marketing and fundraising coordinator for Cabot Animal Support Services, said the shelter relies heavily on donations and community support.

“Daily operations at the shelter are an act of love that demands a large amount of dedication and time,” she said. “It’s extremely important to teach children the value of social responsibility that comes with volunteering in their community.

“Volunteering is beneficial to the animals, as well as the children, by teaching responsible pet care and the benefits of and need for animal facilities.”

Buie said that when Asman emailed her regarding Jordan’s request, it got her thinking about how young children can help the animals, while also teaching them the needs of animals while they are at the shelter, and the construction of enrichment activities was her first thought.

“While the animals have visitors and are taken for numerous walks and field trips weekly, they need something to entertain them during lulls or after close of business,” Buie said. “Enrichment activities help alleviate the stress that comes with living in a shelter environment, while also stimulating their brains to help them cope with the lack of mental activity.

“Jordan and her friends designed and built the most amazing kitty flirt poles we have ever seen. The cats and kittens absolutely love them.”

Buie said the group also donated pet food, treats and $10 of Jordan’s birthday money.

“The time, love and energy they put into the creations were visible,” Buie said. “The shelter animals loved the special treats. Small gestures make a big difference to our animals.”

She said pet-food and supply drives are a simple way to provide much needed items to the facility.

“These things go a long way in the animal-sheltering world, where oftentimes stress levels run high, and morale can sometimes be low,” Buie said.

Anyone who wants to host a small gathering at the shelter or would like more information on how to help may email bbuie@cabotar.gov.

Jordan attends Cabot Middle School South, and her favorite subject is language arts.

“I probably won’t do this every year, but I will do it more often than I have,” she said of her unique birthday party. “Maybe I will do it every other year. … I don’t know yet, but it is something I would love to do again and again.”

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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