by Lisa Tome
A Rising Sun Middle School sixth grader already has everything a 12-year-old could want - an iPod and a cell phone.
So when her birthday rolled around, Gathering Johnson decided that her gifts would go to the dogs. And the cats. Johnson's birthday party was set for the first weekend in October. Because it was held outdoors and due to rain, it was postponed.
That gave Johnson more time to gather donations for her favorite charity "A Buddy for Life" - Cecil's animal care and control authority.
Johnson is an animal lover and her family - parents Amy and Michael, and sister, Immagen, have two dogs and two cats.
"I just want to help animals," Gathering said.
The family printed out flyers with suggested donations - including everything from dog and cat food, to paper towels, cleaners, and used sheets and towels.
They distributed the lists to Gathering's friends, family members, and neighbors. Instead of birthday gifts for herself, those lists contained Gathering's desired items.
Amy Johnson said she wasn't at all surprised that her daughter would want to help others on her birthday.
Gathering started a neighborhood collection box near the dumpsters in her community where discarded, but usable items are given to charity. "She's always done little things. When we started talking about her birthday, she considered collecting shoes for a third world country. But she has always been an animal lover. She wants to give to these animals and help them," said Amy Johnson. "We started planning this five months ago. I asked about her birthday and she said 'I don't really need anything mom'."
Gathering's friends also got into the spirit of the event. They had been collecting scrap items. The $50 from their collection was donated for the cause.
In addition to volunteering to help others, Gathering is an all A honor student, plays Rising Sun Little League where she is an All-Star and fall ball team member. She also plays basketball at Rising Sun Church of the Nazarene.