"My name is Emily Pechoski. And on my 11th birthday I decided, well, in the past two years I have done fundraisers for people," began a letter from an 11-year-old girl from McRae to the Paws Inn Store in Searcy. "So on my 11th birthday I decided why don't I do a fundraiser for animals now. So I did!"
Emily's mother, Tosha Pechoski, said that she was "shocked" when her daughter first came to her and said that, instead of receiving presents, she wanted to do a fundraiser for the Arkansas Food Bank.
"Because, one, she's a kid. Why would she not want presents for her birthday?" Tosha said. "So, of course me and Daddy [Joe Pechoski] even struggled with 'she doesn't want us to get her anything but it's her birthday. We should go get her something.' So then we had to go back and forth with that because she didn't want us to get her anything."
"I did it because I think about other people before myself," Emily said. "For my 10th birthday, I did the Arkansas Food Bank and raised money and food."
"And then in March," Tosha said, "Teen Challenge came to our church, and so that really touched her. So she ended up making 56 bags that we dropped off at four different locations. It was different places that were for domestic violence and drug abuse."
For her 11th birthday, Emily said, "because I remembered that I already did two things for people, I decided to something for animals." She said she picked Paws Inn because the organization is raising money for a no-kill shelter.
At her August birthday party at Antioch Community Church, Emily raised $225 and two long tables overflowing with household items that were donated to the nonprofit.
Her letter to Paws Inn included a "thank you" to everyone who helped her. "I had tons of people to suport me like family, friends, Antioch comunity church, and McRae Methodist church. Thank you once again for all of the people who helped me."
Theresa Martin, president of Paws Inn Inc., said she was incredibly grateful to Emily for her donation. "She gave us money and a trailerload of stuff."
Tosha said she thinks Emily has been a "big blessing" to their church and affiliated churches. "I think it's been a blessing to all of the people because each time she's done it, she's made up flyers and they've been passed out to the churches, so for them to see that there's a kid that's trying to make a difference has been a good thing."