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North Syracuse boy gives up birthday presents in favor of donations to local animal shelters

Parker Vavra, 8, visits with a kitty in the CNY SPCA’s cat room. Parker asked his family and friends to give donations to local animal shelters instead of giving him birthday presents this year.

Parker Vavra, 8, visits with a kitty in the CNY SPCA’s cat room. Parker asked his family and friends to give donations to local animal shelters instead of giving him birthday presents this year.

— Bobbie Jo was in Price Chopper one day not long after the invitations went out when she overheard a woman talking to her friend.

“They didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t introduce myself, but the woman’s daughter was one of the girls Parker had invited,” she said. “She was going on about how rude she thought he was for doing this. Then her daughter came up to him at school and said, ‘My mom said I can’t come to your party because you’re rude. You’re not supposed to tell people what to give you for your birthday.’”

Only three of the invited guests showed to Parker’s party. The boy was hurt and upset, unable to understand why his desire to help a population in need could be considered rude.

“That was what really upset him,” Bobbie Jo said, “being called rude. He couldn’t understand that.”

She said she told her son that not everyone has his passion. She’s deliberately avoiding name-calling and putting down the other parent because she doesn’t want Parker to react that way.

“I’m trying to teach him about forgiveness, kindness, caring,” she said. “To put her down makes us no better than she is. And there are more people out there that will support him than will not.”

Indeed, a Facebook page Bobbie Jo started to support her son’s endeavors (Facebook.com/ParkersBirthdayWish) has garnered nearly 200 “likes” and nationwide attention. He’s received donations from as far away as Australia, all for local animal shelters. Over the weekend, Parker visited Helping Hounds in DeWitt, the Humane Association of Central New York in Liverpool and the CNY SPCA in Mattydale to drop off the donations.

Parker is so inspired by the activity that he’s decided he wants to continue doing it.

“He wants to do this every year for the rest of his life,” Bobbie Jo said. “He wanted to do it for Christmas, too. We had to convince him that he should get some presents. But if he wants to do it for his birthday every year, that’s okay with us.”

Bobbie Jo refused to take credit for her son’s disposition, saying it was all Parker.

“He’s just my hero,” she said. “He would give every toy he owns, he would lose both arms and both legs to know no animal would have to be euthanized ever again. He’s said that when he’s a vet, he’s never going to let people put their pets to sleep unless they’re sick and there’s no choice. He’s a very selfless child. He has a huge, huge heart. I’m very proud of him.

“Now if we could just get him to clean his room.”

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