Selling lemonade to flowers, kids across the mountains of Western North Carolina are showing up in a big way for the animals at the WNC Nature Center.

Last month, the Friends of the WNC Nature Center announced it was raising money to support repairs to Brandon’s Otter Falls, the habitat of river otters Obi-Wan and Olive.

“The response was tremendous and we received some really special notes with the donations that came in,” said Development Director Kate Frost.

Some of the gifts Frost couldn’t believe came in the form of $2 bills that had been left for kids by the Tooth Fairy, several children pledged their allowances that were then matched by parents and colorful pictures were created by kids that supported the otters.

According to Frost, the project’s fundraising goal was met, and repairs should begin on the otter habitat this fall. Best of all, Obi and Olive will soon be able to enjoy their newly fixed pool.

And the Giving Continues

Several more kids donated their earnings from summer enterprises, including lemonade stands, flower stands and bake sales.

One such WNC nature fan and otter supporter Alma Rouse, 8, who lives in Yancey County with her mom, dad and older brother offered up the money she earned this year through her bake sales and craft sales.

The total gift amounted to more than $500.

“I love animals, and I would do anything for them,” Alma said. “The Nature Center is one of my favorite places. I like the variety of animals from bears to owls. It is cool to see how animals live in their natural habitat.”

Bored at home during the lockdown, Alma got the idea to raise money to help animals.

“I got to thinking about how much animals mean to me when I was home so much, spending time with my cat Fuzz. I wanted to support them, and I love baking and making crafts, so I thought if I sold them, I could help animals in need,” she said.

Alma now periodically sets up at a local food co-op to sell cookies and crafts, and she’s established an online store at www.almashandmade.com, where customers can support her fundraising efforts by purchasing cookies, potholders and window stars in a variety of colors.

“It’s inspiring to see the giving spirit of Alma and these other young entrepreneurs,” said Frost. “We’re so grateful for the engaged families in this community who are helping grow the next generation of nature lovers, conservationists and even fundraisers.

Through her donations, Alma has adopted the Nature Center’s skunk, cougar, gray wolves, red foxes, river otters and white-tailed deer.

The WNC Nature Center is Asheville’s wildlife park. It is located on 42 acres and is home to more than 60 species of animals, including red pandas, river otters, black bears, red and gray wolves, and red and gray foxes. Tax-deductible donations support the animal habitats, education programs and conservation initiatives of the WNC Nature Center.

For more information on becoming a Wild Parent, or supporting the mission of the WNC Nature Center, visit www.wildwnc.org/adopt.

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