12-year-old Riley Valentine’s birthday took on a special meaning beyond the typical tween celebration. Instead of receiving gifts for himself, Riley chose to use his birthday as an opportunity to make a positive impact in his community, specifically for animals in need.

Last week, Riley fulfilled his birthday dream by donating bags of pet food to the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa in Philippi. The Animal Welfare Society expressed immense gratitude for his thoughtful contribution, a result of Riley’s Cause-for-Paws drive. During this drive, he requested friends and family to contribute only one special gift—food for animals.

Notably, this isn’t the first time Riley has dedicated his birthday to helping animals. At the age of ten, he set a record by making a significant pet food donation of over 30 ‘birthday gifts’ to the Animal Welfare Society.

Riley’s parents take pride in his determination to make a positive impact at such a young age. Veronica Valentine, Riley’s mom, shared, “Riley has loved dogs since before he could walk or speak, and to see that passion still so evident today is amazing to witness.”

Riley’s birthday contribution adds to a series of celebrations for birthday heroes of all ages this year. Notable examples include Dr. Nicole Evans dedicating her 50th birthday to raising funds for Wilderness Search and Rescue, and Greta Wilson’s birthday mission involving fundraising through laps for township dogs.

Photo cred: Animal Welfare Society of South Africa