Emma Smith
Emma and her dog Bacon

Like most public school students in Anne Arundel County, eight-year-old Emma Smith has been attending school online since last spring. While her studies may be virtual, the efforts of one school project are making a difference in the real world. 

In May, Emma’s teacher Mrs. Rush introduced her Bodkin Elementary second graders to the concept that students could bring about positive change in their community. Then the students were tasked with picking a Passion Project for e-learning.

Emma, who has grown up with dogs, holds a special place in her heart for animals. So she chose to focus on helping homeless animals for her passion project. She created “Paws 4 Animals,” in the hopes that the slogan encourages people to “pause (paws)” and think about the animals in need. Her goal is to help homeless animals through fundraising while educating people about the animals’ needs.

“Paws 4 Animals” has since become a family project. Emma and her mother created a personal page on Facebook to help facilitate her fundraising efforts and to showcase some animals in need of adoption. 

Emma’s first fundraiser was for her birthday in June. During the drive-by celebration, friends and family donated supplies for the Anne Arundel County Animal Care and Control in Millersville. The effort resulted in donations that filled two 30 gallon tupperware bins with food, supplies, and toys that were listed as needs on the shelter’s website. 

Since then, Emma has focused on a different charity each month. In July, Emma sold chapstick keychains and donated the funds to Unconditional Love Pet Rescue, the shelter that rescued Finnigan, her family’s recently adopted boxer/golden retriever.

After receiving a check with the proceeds from the sale, the rescue gave Emma a shoutout during a Facebook Live videos, and named a recently rescued shepherd mix in her honor. Over 400 people commented on the post, confirming what an impact her actions were making for shelter animals. 

A family member suggested Emma try her hand at crafting beaded mask holders. So in August, Emma got to work, and was able to sell the holders for $6 each, raising $400, the proceeds to BARCs animal shelter in Baltimore.     

Since the beaded mask holders were so popular, Emma is continuing to craft them for September, with the proceeds going to the Senior Dog Sanctuary, at the suggestion of her Facebook followers. 

Her mother says Emma “is such a kind-hearted child and has continued to strive to make more money by every fundraiser she does. Her commitment to the community is amazing, and she is a beautiful light shining through these crazy days we all have currently dealt with.”

You can follow Emma’s philanthropy efforts at Facebook.com/Paws4Animals. She also set up  an Instagram page, Paws4Animals, that showcases the beaded mask holders available for purchase. There is a seven day turn around for orders to allow Emma to still stay focused on her schoolwork and extracurricular activities.

—Joyce Heid