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River Falls boy’s birthday gift is the act of giving

Kristy and 7-year-old son Gavin Anderson show off the canister they used to collect donations for Coco’s Heart dog rescue at Gavin’s birthday party. (River Falls Journal photo by Gretta Stark)

Kristy and Jason Anderson gave their almost-7-year-old son Gavin a choice this year when planning his birthday party.

Gavin, a River Fall Public Montessori first grader, could get the usual presents from his friends or ask them to donate money to an area nonprofit.

Gavin chose the latter.

“He was very cool about it,” said Kristy. “There was no resistance, no regret, no comments. He just decided and once he decided he was good to go with it.”

Kristy and Jason looked at charity and nonprofit websites with Gavin, but Kristy said Gavin was interested in Coco’s Heart Dog Rescue.

The organization rescues animals and puts them up for adoption. It was started by Ashley Kurtz whose dog Coco died when she was 12.

Gavin’s dog Lola died unexpectedly last year at age six. Animal-loving Gavin was very upset.

Gavin said he still misses playing fetch and tug-of-war with Lola.

Gavin was inspired by Kurtz’s young age when she dreamt of starting Coco’s Heart. So in honor of his departed canine friend, Gavin chose Coco’s Heart.

The Andersons put an insert into each birthday party invitation asking his 15 friends to bring donations for Coco’s Heart instead of presents for Gavin.

After the Feb. 14 birthday party, the family gathered in the living room. Gavin counted the money.

In addition to collecting about $125, Gavin also collected a bowl and a squeaky toy for Coco’s Heart.

Please see the March 27 print River Falls Journal for the complete story about Gavin Anderson’s birthday giving.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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