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Special donation request for PAW Animal Shelter

PAW Animal Shelter in Fort Madison. Photo by: Joe St. Clair/KHQA

In front of the PAW Animal Shelter in Fort Madison, there are large piles of trash bags.

Inside each trash bag, tons of aluminum cans.

Each can is worth a nickel to help the shelter.

"We are not funded by city, county, or state," says PAW Shelter director, Sandy Brown.

It's also volunteer-run, so donations are what keep animals like Muggs, Bam Bam, and Tess healthy until they can find a forever home. Like Socks. He was adopted by Jennifer Buechel and her 8-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn Schilcher, and brought to a good home.

"Three cats and a dog," says Buechel.

Kaitlyn's 9th birthday was back on February 25th. Her mom had an idea.

"Instead of buying a birthday present for Kaitlyn, donate to the PAW Shelter," said Buechel.
"We get a lot of children who have birthday parties. They have their friends and family give donations," said Sandy Brown.

But this party would be different. Special...just like Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn was born with a rare disorder called

"Severe Congenital Neurtopenia," said Buechel.

Her body's bone marrow basically can't produce the right kind of cells to fight infection. It's a disease that's manageable, but something Kaitlyn would never outgrow.

"As we got older, we tried to explain...she was different. She had a rare condition...but she was always so happy," said Buechel.

Especially around her pets...and like any 8 year old, her birthday. Kaitlyn's ninth birthday would be something her family had never planned on. There would be no physical party, because Kaitlyn wouldn't be there to celebrate.

"It's been 125 days...without her," said Buechel.

November 2nd, 2017, 8-year-old Kaitlyn Schilcher passed away. She had gotten sick overnight, and stayed home from school. Jennifer got a call at work that Kaitlyn was unresponsive. CPR was given all the way to Iowa City, but there was nothing doctors could do.

We were just planning Christmas," says Beuchel.

And, Kaitlyn's dad's birthday...November 7th...just three days after his child passed away makes it hard to celebrate. Then, Jennifer had a birthday.

"So sad not getting a birthday card that says 'mom,' says Beuchel.

You might start thinking it isn't fair.

"The other day, I went into Subway, and they make those little cookies. I thought I should get some and take them home to Kaitlyn. And then it's like, I can't do that. She's not home," said Beuchel.

It's not fair, but the family is doing what it can to turn this into a positive.

"It's made me angry. Sad. But she was so strong," said Buechel.

And the family wants to stay strong and give back in Kaitlyn's memory. Since Kaitlyn loved animals, they have chosen PAW Animal Shelter, with the hope of raising enough money to buy at least one cat tower.

"It make us very proud to know there are parents out there with a little girl who thought so much about animals, and in a time like this, her parents would honor her," said Sandy Brown.

Besides the mounds of trash bags filled with aluminum cans in front of the shelter, there are also memorials of those who loved animals, just like Kaitlyn. And while each aluminum can gives a nickel to the shelter, the gift of this cat tower comes at an unbelievable price.

If you're interested in donating in Kaitlyn's memory, you can contact the PAW Animal Shelter in Fort Madison at (319) 372-2274.

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