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Teen Supporting Felines Through Bat Mizvah Project



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For her Bat Mitzvah project, Newtown Middle School seventh grader Hanna Reps chose to assist kittens and cats though Sandy Hook-based Kitten Associates and Southbury's Whiskers Pet Rescue.

"I've always loved animals ever since I was little," said the 13-year-old, who celebrated her birthday in January and will have her Bat Mizvah at B'nai Israel in Southbury on June 15. "I'm hoping for a lot of donations, supplies, toys, treats, food — lots of stuff to help."

In addition, Hanna and her family will distribute to more than 130 family, friends, and congregants, an information packet she created that details ways to care for cats.

Robin Olson, founder and president of the Sandy Hook-based Kitten Associates, said she was thrilled to hear about the teen's efforts.

"I'm more delighted to see how Hanna's been flowering as an advocate for cat nutrition than us getting something monetary for that," Ms Olson said.

Hanna has a goal of raising $1,500 through a GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/hannas-bat-mitzvah-cat-shelter-project. All donations go to Kitten Associates and Whiskers, both 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Financial donations will be split evenly between the two organizations. The GoFundMe page will remain up beyond the Bat Mizvah, Hanna hopes, for years to come if the support continues to roll in.

Donations of food and supplies may be made directly to each organization, and both have a list of items in need on their websites (kittenassociates.org and whiskerspetrescue.org).

Hanna has a product wish list as part of the information packet, which includes grain-free canned cat or kitten food, kitten milk replacer, nursing bottles, cat toys, paper towels, trash bags, bleach, laundry detergent, and gift cards to Petco, PetSmart, Walmart, or Target.

Hanna asks people to consider ordering these items from Chewy.com, which has already made a significant donation of supplies for the cause.

She enjoys skateboarding, cooking, and swimming, but cats are perhaps her biggest passion. Her family adopted two felines, Mocha and Pizzy, from Kitten Associates five years ago, and they have been an important part of her life.

"Mocha and Pizzy have given me tremendous joy and I feel it’s important to give back to the local shelters so they can continue their important work. My project is to help educate people in the proper care and feeding of cats and to support these local cat shelters," Hanna wrote in her information packet.

Hanna urges prospective pet owners to adopt from shelters such as Kitten Associates and Whiskers rather than purchasing from a pet shop.

"Visiting the shelter to drop off food, litter, toys, and cleaning supplies or donating money via my GoFundMe account will help a lot because these shelters are self-supporting. They rely on donations from the public and the small fees from those who adopt," Hanna wrote in her packet, which also gives advice about care, including diet. "It's best to own more than one cat so they can entertain each other and so they won't scratch up the furniture."

Those interested in supporting Hanna's project may do so in a variety of ways. There is a donation button on the Kitten Associates website. Checks may be mailed to Kitten Associates, PO Box 354, Newtown CT 06470-0354. Donations may be through the Kitten Associates Wish List through Amazon. Ms Olson also welcomes gift cards from Your Healthy Pet, 61 Church Hill Road in Newtown.

Those with questions may contact Kitten Associates at 203-744-9228 or info@kittenassociates.org.

Whiskers is at 134 Main Street South, Southbury, CT 06488; more contact information is available on the Whiskers website.

Hanna Reps holds a feline friend Diane, whose adoption was pending as of this past week, at Whiskers Pet Rescue in Southbury. The Newtown resident is raising money and collecting donations for both Whiskers and Sandy Hook's Kitten Associates for her Bat Mizvah project.

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