From left, the Cusick siblings, Emilie, Jordan, and Kristin, are seeking donations for the Toledo Area Humane Society. Jordan Cusick, above, has Rex the lizard in hand while Precious the dog and Silvey the bird look on. Sister Emilie, at right, shares the couch with Oscar, the family's Great Dane puppy.
Emilie and Jordan Cusick, sister and brother whose January birthdays are two days apart, have an unusual gift wish-list - pet food, chew toys, and other animal stuff.
The Sylvania Township children decided to forgo their birthday presents this year and instead asked people coming to their birthday party today to bring a donation for the Toledo Area Humane Society.
"We see strays or hurt dogs out in the street, especially now that it's cold, and the kids always want to help," said their mother, Sherrie Cusick.
Jordan's 10th birthday was yesterday; Emilie will turn 11 tomorrow. Their older sister, Kristin, turned 18 on Jan. 8.
A picture of the Cusick family could be listed in the dictionary next to animal-lovers.
They have three dogs, three birds, a lizard, and a soon-to-be-stocked custom-built aquarium that easily will hold more than 800 gallons of water.
"Our birthdays are close to Christmas, so this seemed right to do," Emilie said while the family's Great Dane puppy climbed on her.
The young girl wants to be a veterinarian.
Jordan said the idea to help animals in need struck him when he brought their dogs in from the cold.
Officials with the humane society said that the gesture is appreciated because the organization depends solely on donations.
"People do this, not a lot, but we do get children who come through and, in lieu of gifts for themselves, they bring gifts for the animals," said Rhoda Miller, director of development for the humane society.
"In return, we take a picture of them and give them a special guided tour."
Sherri Miller, spokesman for the humane society, said donations keep the organization's doors open.
"We are nonprofit, and we don't receive funding from any local, state, or federal organizations," she said.
"We use 12 tons of cat litter a year, so you see the need we have."
In 2007, the organization had nearly 6,000 animals go through its facility at 1920 Indian Wood Circle in Maumee.
"By far, the majority are cats and dogs, but we also get bunnies, gerbils, guinea pigs - you name it."
The organization's Web site, www.toledoareahumanesociety.org, lists needed supplies.
The Cusick family had more than 25 people confirmed to attend today's party, which will be at a bowling alley.