By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
Kinley Lipscomb is not your average 10-year-old.
A self-proclaimed outgoing personality and a fun, free spirit, Kinley attends fourth grade at Westbrook Christian School, enjoying subjects like math and participating in sports such as basketball and volleyball. An avid painter, Kinley loves creating artwork and reading Betty G. Birney’s Humphrey the hamster series. Frozen 2 claims the title for her favorite film, and she never misses the chance to join Luke Bryan in a duet.
“From a very early age, she has been a caregiver,” said Kinley’s mother, Leslie. “She is very compassionate, and she loves to make other people happy. She has a servant’s heart. She really does have a spiritual gift of serving others. She makes us very proud…we learn a lot from her all the time.”
Yet when most 10-year-olds might dedicate their Saturdays to sleeping in or spending time with friends and family, Kinley (pictured above) rises bright and early, committing her weekend to helping those in need. For the past several months, Kinley has volunteered at the Humane Society Pet Rescue and Adoption Center in Gadsden.
While she has always possessed a tender and loving heart, Kinley’s interest in the Humane Society sparked towards the end of summer when she discovered two stray dogs on the side of her street. Leslie described that often people will abandon animals near their home since their family lives on a farm in the country. Leslie contacted the Humane Society about the two dogs specifically, and their collaborative efforts resulted in two adoptions, and the two dogs finding a new home in Minnesota.
Once Kinley realized the Humane Society’s mission, she found herself eager to learn more.
Kinley’s days at the Humane Society are no simple task. She works diligently for hours with cats and kittens, cleaning their crates, changing their litter boxes and replenishing their food and water. Although Kinley leaves the Humane Society a bit dirtier and sweatier than she entered, playing with kittens each week certainly rewards her efforts.
“I love all animals, but I’m a crazy cat lady,” Kinley said.
Throughout her time at the Humane Society, Kinley and Leslie were enlightened to the reality of animals at the shelter. The Humane Society houses more animals than the mother and daughter ever imagined, caring for them daily as they attempt to match them with loving families.
“I think a lot of times we take for granted that the Humane Society has everything they need,” said Leslie. “I feel like a lot of times, it’s maybe an out-of-sight out-of-mind type thing. With Kinley wanting to go in and work hands on, it’s really showed me that there’s such a need, and it’s every day. There’s a need for homes, fosters and supplies. It’s really opened our eyes and helped us get the word out that they could use some help. They’re doing a great job, but in order for them to [continue] to do a great job, it takes more support. The more support we can give the Humane Society, the more animals they can take care of.”
Inspired to support the Humane Society further, Kinley partnered with her school to promote a fundraiser that featured T-shirts she designed herself. The shirts read “Be Kind to Animals,” alongside Proverbs 12:10 which states, “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals,” a significant verse that speaks to Kinley personally. So far, Kinley has sold 155 T-shirts – and the profits from each purchase pour directly into the Humane Society.
Leslie commended the support of friends and family who encourage Kinley, from her older sister Landri to her peers at school. She noted that even strangers have reached out to join Kinley’s cause, inspired by her deamination to help those who cannot help themselves. Leslie offered a few words to other mothers whose children might feel that same tug to better their community as Kinley.
“100 percent support [your children],” said Leslie. “Sometimes it’s hard when Kinley leaves there on Saturdays. As much as she loves to go and she feels like she is making a difference, sometimes it’s hard to know that there are so many animals that don’t have homes, and she’s having to leave them behind. But I also feel like that’s kind of good for her to understand how things work. It does help her see what a difference she could make. Support your children and volunteer with them. I think it’s important if they have that in their heart to nurture that, and foster it.”
But Kinley’s support travels far beyond designing T-shirts or volunteering a few hours each week at the Humane Society. Her drive to aid animals transcends the present and trickles into the future. When she gets older, Kinley plans to work at the Humane Society officially, and even own her own rescue someday.
Through her passionate and determination, Kinley proves that age is but a number. Her volunteerism emerges as an inspiration to others of a heart devoted to fulfilling God’s commandments, and the manifestation of the positive change that occurs when people apply themselves to a greater purpose. Kinley embodies the verse that she wears on her shirt, treating animals (and humans) with kindness in each moment, and demonstrating that you are never too young make a difference.
“This is just her little dream and her little world,” said Leslie. “She loves every minute of volunteering. When she leaves there, she feels so good about it. As much as she’s making a difference and she’s kind of putting the spotlight on the Humane Society right now, at the same time it’s just what she enjoys doing. It’s just where she wants to be, and what she wants to be doing.”
“[Proverbs 12:10 is important] because it means you should always be kind to animals,” said Kinley. “I know that’s what God wants us to do. I love that most animals are loving. They’re sweet and kind. [When I help animals and volunteer] it makes me feel like we’re making the world a better place.”