You are never too young to make a difference in your community.
Sienna Filippine has proven just that, as she, at 12 years old, has been able to create an organization that is not only helping animals in the Burlington County Animal Shelter and other emergency organizations, but is also helping fund equipment that can save a pet’s life in an emergency.
Pennies for Pets is a nonprofit organization created by Filippine to support animals in shelters, and to raise funds for oxygen masks and microchips for animals. She is no stranger to animals—between two homes, she has four cats, four dogs, a hamster and two turtles, and she is happy to be doing something to help other animals in her community and in other surrounding communities.
Filippine first thought of this idea as the result of a presentation during a school assembly. Pennies for Patients, an organization that raises money for cancer patients, visited her school when Filippine was 10 years old, and it inspired to think of an charitable organization herself. That day, she went home to tell her mom and stepdad about her idea: to create an organization to help pets. Filippine knew that to start, she at least needed a Facebook page and a website. From then on, Pennies for Pets was born.
Since that first day—March 10, 2017—Filippine has gone to over seven events where she has raised funds for the benefit of all different kinds of animals. She sets up a table and asks for monetary donations while she explains the mission of Pennies for Pets. The funds she collects are then donated to local emergency services organizations.
Pennies for Pets also accepts non-monetary donations, in the form of unopened cans of dog or cat food, cat toys and treats, stainless steel dog bowls, blankets, sheets, towels and other supplies that might be useful for pets. All of those items are then donated to the Burlington County Animal Shelter.
Starting off small, Filippine and her family started collecting donations for the shelter, tangible and monetary. After collecting for shelters and local emergency centers, she was happy to help the shelter, but wanted to do something more.
With the help of her stepdad, Bordentown resident Bob Campbell, Filippine figured out another way she could help animals in need other than just through monetary or tangible donations. She could use the funds to purchase oxygen mask kits for local fire departments. Each kit comes with three different oxygen masks in different sizes that can accommodate different kinds of animals. In a fire, these oxygen masks will allow pets to get the oxygen they need.
Fire department funds do not account for animal oxygen masks, so donations make a significant difference for pets in the wake of a fire.
“It was amazing to hear about the first time the oxygen masks had be used,” Filippine said. “I was so excited.”
Since starting Pennies for Pets, Filippine has been able to donate 17 oxygen mask kits to local fire departments. Each oxygen mask kit costs around $61—with shipping, that rounds out to about $80. With the funds raised from her last two events, Filippine will be able to purchase three more kits, and she is currently looking for local fire departments that need them.
Filippine held her first-ever donation drive at the Florence municipal building, where she and her family collected tons of supplies to donates, such as pet food, paper towels, garbage bags and more.
Filippine has also hosted a Pennies for Pets donation drive include a month-long donation drive at ARI of Holman Enterprises, and she was able to donate her first oxygen pet mask kit to the Delanco EMS in the summer of 2017. In October of 2017, Filippine had a table at Bordentown Riverfest, where the proceeds of the event went towards a pet oxygen mask kit for the Hope Hose Fire Department in Bordentown.
This August, Filippine participated in two events. She went to the National Night Out event and raised enough money to purchase an oxygen mask kit. At an event at ARI in Mount Laurel, she was able to raise enough money for two more mask kits in the span of two and a half hours.
Her mom, Colleen Campbell, 34, says she is proud of her daughter’s achievements and her dedication to her work.
“I’m very inspired by her,” said Campbell. She recalls the night Filippine came home and “she had her mission down.”
Campbell acknowledges how much her daughter has grown since starting this nonprofit organization, and she’s enjoyed watching Filippine come out of her shell. “It’s been awesome to see her become this person,” said Campbell. “She truly cares about her community.”
Pennies for Pets is just the beginning of what Filippine wants to do. Now that she has had success raising money for animal oxygen masks, another project she has started looking into is raising money to go towards microchip scanners, which could be able to help identify missing pets and reunite them with their owners.
“I love knowing that I’m doing something to help better the lives of many different animals, and I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported me with this and who has helped this project grow and thrive,” said Filippine on her website.
Filippine and her family continue to look for new events to attend and hopes to continue growing Pennies for Pets while at the same time brainstorm new ideas that could help the community.
As for what Filippine hopes to do when she grows up, she wants to stick with animals—she’s leaning towards becoming a veterinarian, or a doctor that works closely with horses. She currently takes horse lessons at Chesterfield, and she may look into the possibility of providing oxygen masks for horses.
Pennies for Pets has grown over the past year, and Filippine will continue to help her community but helping one animal at a time.