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Calette Hicks with her dog treats
Heather Hicks
Calette Hicks with her homemade dog treats.

Calette Hicks already understood how to help dogs. She and her mother, Heather Hicks, made food, sold lunches, and took tickets at herding trials for a Shetland Sheepdog rescue several times a year.

But when the 11-year-old saw Ukrainians carrying their pets as they escaped danger on the news from her home in Strongsville, Ohio, she couldn’t believe the scene.

“As an adult, this event is awful to witness, but the evacuation is even more frightening from a child’s perspective,” Heather says.

The family discussed the invasion in Eastern Europe and the impact on the people and their pets, which inspired the fifth-grader to make a difference. She knew she needed to do something to help.

“When I saw what was happening, I kept asking, ‘Is this real?'” Calette says. “I didn’t think the animals should have to go through this awful experience. I wanted to know what I could do to improve the dogs’ lives.”

Figuring Out How to Help

After doing some initial research, Calette learned that the dogs and cats seeking refuge with their family needed food, water, medicine, and veterinary care. The family discussed ways she could raise money for these pet necessities. Making and selling dog treats to her neighbors seemed like the logical choice based on her previous experience.

From her time caring for her family’s two 7-l/2- year-old Shelties—Leah and McKenna—coupled with her volunteering for the Sheltie club, Calette thought the dogs from Ukraine would benefit the most from her cookie sales.

“I’m hoping that I’m helping these pets and doing the right thing by raising money for them,” Calette says. “I planned to donate 100 percent of the sales to the pets in Ukraine.”

According to Heather, her daughter is intelligent, active, and ambitious, so her efforts were doable. Aside from this baking project, Calette also competes on a club volleyball team. Plus, her hours watching “Shark Tank” really struck an entrepreneurial spirit in her. “She figured she could juggle selling cookies between her school and after-school activities,” Heather explains.

Calette Hicks rolls out dough for dog treats.
Heather Hicks
Calette Hicks, 11, rolls out dough for dog treats.

Baking for Funds

To determine what to whip up, Calette asked the Shetland Sheepdog Club to give her two dog-safe recipes. They happily obliged and took her efforts a step further by mentioning the fundraising goal in the members’ newsletter. Next, she enlisted her mother, father, Chris Hicks, grandmother, and friends Ameera and Cayla to help out with both kitchen prep and packaging.

She essentially had a band of sous chefs helping her.”On different days, we had different helpers,” Heather explains.

With assembly-line precision, it didn’t take long for the delicious aromas of chicken in the Paw Lickin Chicken recipe and peanut butter for the Pea “Mutt” Butter treats to waft through the Hickses’ kitchen. The “staff” agreed that watching Leah and McKenna drool throughout the process provided entertainment and an inkling that other dogs would adore these treats.

The team packed half-pound packages and priced them at $5 a bag. After packing up the canine goodies, Calette and her friend Ashley knocked on doors in their neighborhood, explained the fundraiser, and encouraged people to contribute by either purchasing treats or just donating.

That first trip alone raised $105.

“We were lucky that one neighbor was having a party, so half the neighborhood was there,” Calette says.

Hoping to increase sales, she posted photos of the baking operation on Facebook with information about the project and how people could order from her. Rather than selling them door to door, Calette would take orders and bake, using a notebook to track each order and delivery.

As of the last count, she has raised $860 in dog treats and has set a new goal of $1,000 with her cookie sales.

“I thought we had made enough treats and wondered if her interest in this project would trail off, but she’s remained just as passionate,” says her mother. “Calette doesn’t want to stop. I wanted to go to bed one night, but she wanted to bake.”

Heather Hicks
Calette packages up her dog treats for sale while her Sheltie watches.

Determining Where to Donate

While baking and setting dog treats required some serious hustling, choosing a reputable nonprofit organization to donate to proved to be a little more of a thoughtful task. The family mulled over it for three days and took suggestions from friends and family, thinking about which organization had a good track record and would benefit animals.

“We researched 15 different groups,” Heather recalls. “I suggested splitting the money, but Calette felt adamant that the funds would help the most if they all went to one organization.”

Ultimately, the Calette decided to go with SPCA International and learned much about entrepreneurship in the process of figuring out how to help the pets in Ukraine.

Related article: Do Dogs Sweat?
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