Selfless siblings are making a difference
Emily Fleming was so excited to give a donation to Susquehanna Service Dogs when CBS 21’S Sherry Christian and photojournalist Gary Sherman caught up with the Dauphin County 5-year-old.
This donation is extra special because Emily gave up birthday presents this past September and instead, collected donations for the non-profit that breeds, raises and trains dogs to be placed with people with physical and psychiatric disabilities.
Emily calls them "helper dogs.”
“If someone wants help, the helper dogs help them with something," says Emily.
It costs $30,000 to fund a service dog to help people with PTSD, autism, hearing and balance issues, seizure disorders or people who use wheelchairs.
Kerry Wevodau, Director of Development, says the vet costs are the biggest expense.
“We also have to feed the dogs when they're in the kennel. There are leashes to be bought, there are collars to be bought, so every dollar makes a difference,” she says.
It’s not the first time Emily has made a difference by giving up birthday presents for charity, she did it last year too.
But this year she was recognized by her school, the Silver Academy at the JCC in Harrisburg.
Emily received the Mensch Award given to children who go above and beyond to do something special for others.
Tammy Reid, a teacher at The Silver Academy, has high praise for Emily.
“She says, I don't want presents, nothing for me! All for the dogs, give stuff to the dogs! But she is sweet that way. She's amazing. Some kids just have that in them already and I got to teach her last year and it was phenomenal, she's an amazing kid to have in the class."
So where did this generous spirit of a 5-year-old come from? Her 11-year-old brother, Christopher.
Chris has also given up birthday presents in the past and again this year for charity. This year he collected donations for hurricane relief.
“I came home from school and I hear that hurricane Maria had hit Puerto Rico after they got Irma too and I felt really bad because people suffered this. And there are a lot of kids in my class from Puerto Rico with family members they couldn't contact them at all and they were really worried so I was like I need to help this," says Christopher.
Their mother, Lisa, says they are always willing to give rather than receive.
"Enthusiasm, you know most kids if you suggest let's not do birthday presents this year, let's put the money to help someone else and they'd be like no thanks. And both of them every year it's a big thing for them to find out where they want to help."
After talking to Emily and Chris' parents, it doesn't take long to figure out the acorns didn't fall far from the tree.
“Everyday people acting like heroes and we can be a small part of that. I think community by community make a whole country better," says their father, Justin Fleming.