You could say Sophie Lin, 8, of Vacaville, is among the best friends Bay Area felines ever had.
The Orchard Elementary second-grader started an online fundraiser, via GoFundMe, to help sick and homeless cats, despite being allergic to them, she said during a telephone interview last week while visiting relatives in Geyserville, in Sonoma County.
“I really, really like cats,” she said. “I want cats to get better.”
With nearly $550 already in the account, her goal is to raise $1,000, with proceeds to benefit the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which seeks to stop animal abuse and support animal health across the Bay Area. As a nonprofit, it provides veterinary services to pets — cats, dogs and many other animals — inside and outside of their shelter.
The account is at https://www.gofundme.com/f/a5sa5u-help-sick-cats.
Young Sophie’s mission began during an interaction with her Sunday school teacher, Joselin Hernandez, at the San Francisco Zion Church, which recently relocated to Vacaville.
Hernandez, during a brief phone interview, said she asked her students to think of ways they could “give back” to those they are thankful for at Christmastime.
“She said, ‘I’m thankful for cats,’ and that’s how it started,” recalled Hernandez, a Sacramento resident who works with autistic children.
“It was a very interesting response,” given Sophie’s allergy, she added. “We talked about it a little bit and I thought maybe we could fundraise. So we started a fundraiser. I talked with her mother, too, and she said she could make ‘cat cupcakes’ and ‘cat cookies’ to help out.”
Hernandez and her mother vowed to help Sophie with her Christmas wish.
“She really has a passion to help cats,” said Hernandez. “She really loves cats but can’t have any of her own,” that is, any she can really get close to, showering them with lots of petting and soothing words.
“I’m allergic to cat fur,” said Sophie, adding that extended contact with the fur can lead to “runny noses and watery eyes.”
Still, there are two cats in the Lin household, Sweetums and Skittle, and a beloved miniature schnauzer, Shelby, who poses no allergy problems, said Sophie’s mother, Youngae Lin.
At one point, Sophie wanted to open a lemonade stand to help support an animal rescue shelter, but her mother scotched the idea because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She is, of course, in full support of the current fundraiser.
“I’m proud of Sophie and her idea,” Youngae Lin said. “She has a lot of good ideas.”
No surprise, news of Sophie’s fundraiser is welcome at the San Francisco SPCA, where Krista Maloney, the group’s communications and community engagement manager, said the nonprofit relies on community support to do what it does.
Among other things, she noted in an email to The Reporter, they include finding homes for some 4,000 animals each year and providing most of the homeless dogs and cats with “nonroutine medical or behavioral care before they’re ready for adoption.”
The past year has been “a difficult one for all of us,” Maloney wrote, adding, “And we are so grateful for supporters like Sophie, who have stepped up to help; our work wouldn’t be possible without them.”
Children-originated fundraisers for The City’s SPCA are not uncommon, she noted.
“We’re often contacted by children who are excited about helping animals — we love when kids get involved because they’re the future of animal welfare!” she added in the email.
Maloney has thanked Sophie “for all the wonderful work she’s doing on behalf of the animals.”
“It’s so heartwarming when kids like Sophie take the initiative to give back to their community,” she said. “We’re very thankful for her support, especially during this difficult year.”
But to hear Sophie gush over the telephone about her love of cats and the prospects of her fundraiser may lead a person to believe that — for her, at least — 2020 has been free of difficulties but mostly that there are certainly brighter days ahead.
One of those days may not include a cat of her own to play with, feed, hug and dote on; however, if she could have a cat, said Sophie, “I would name it Loaf, like a loaf of bread. I would want it to be a big, fat cat.”