Olivia Wilson, 8 (left), and Emlyn Kauehowen, 7, help feed Ray Charles, a blind turkey that calls Kindred Community (formerly Semiahmoo Animal League Inc.) home. (Tracy Holmes photo)

South Surrey eight-year-old turns lemonade into hay for injured farm animals

‘It’s, like, the best place possible for animals,’ says young volunteer

He may be a blind turkey, but young Ray Charles – one of the Kindred Community Farm Sanctuary family’s fowl members – seems to know what he likes when it comes to literature: adventure.

“He seemed to like that a lot,” Olivia Wilson said Monday, interpreting Ray’s reaction to a bedtime story she recently read to him.

“He’ll cock his head when he likes a part, like he’s almost laughing.”

Tucking Ray in is among the tasks Olivia, 8, her brother Mateo, 5, and friend Emlyn Kauenhowen, 7, help with at the South Surrey farm every Monday afternoon.

They also feed the bunnies – which are all named after coffee – herd the ducks and eagerly take to whatever else is asked of them. It’s dedication they’ve held to for about two years, regardless of whether the sun is blazing or winter is at its worst.

And while farm operators often find reasons to smile in the course of their own work, whether in seeing the recovery rate of one of the many injured animals they’ve taken in, or in the faces of youth who participate in one of the education or intervention programs, a recent additional effort by Olivia to brighten the animals’ days and ease the financial burden associated with their care added a sweet taste.

READ MORE: Semiahmoo Animal League embarks on new-farm quest

In short, Olivia turned lemonade and treats into hay, by selling the homemade goodies from a stand set up at her family’s South Surrey complex.

“Every summer we have this sort of tradition, that we have lemonade stands. This year, we were thinking maybe we could donate it to charity, so we thought, well we work at SALI (Semiahmoo Animal Leagues Inc., as Kindred was previously known), so that was the perfect charity to donate to.

“I think it’s important that animals get the right care when they’re injured. It’s, like, the best place possible for animals.”

By the end of sales, the Sunnyside Elementary student had $70.15 ready to donate – $15 more than her $55 goal, and enough for around eight bales of hay.

Inspired, Kindred founder Keryn Denroche shared the news in her online newsletter, ending the tale with a simple question: “Virtual glass of lemonade anyone?”

As of Monday, the fund had grown to more than $650; enough for 76 bales of hay.

The response, Denroche and Olivia agree, was “amazing.”

Olivia’s mom, Leah Wilson, said volunteering at Kindred has been an ideal fit for her family. Olivia and Mateo got their start at the farm simply by going with their mother when she started volunteering.

The experience has been “beyond what I expected it to be,” Wilson said, describing a feeling of fulfilment for herself and the satisfaction of seeing her kids develop a sense of responsibility and greater confidence.

She said it’s been a particularly good fit for Olivia.

“She’s a kind heart,” she said.

Emlyn’s mom, Tricia Monahan, said she’s also seen a tremendous change in her daughter over the course of their volunteer work at Kindred.

Emlyn is “the shyest kid,” Monahan said, but through Kindred, “she’s come out of her shell.”

The Peace Arch Elementary student has also fundraised for the farm, including donating her birthday money.

“She feels at home here,” Monahan said. “This is her thing, where her heart is.”

For more information on Kindred, or to buy a virtual glass of lemonade, visit kindredfarm.ca

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Kindred resident Barney is eager for lettuce and other veggies delivered by (from left) Mateo Wilson, Emlyn Kauenhowen and Olivia Wilson Monday. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Olivia Wilson heads for the Kindred Community (formerly Semiahmoo Animal League Inc.) barn, during her weekly volunteer time at the South Surrey property Monday afternoon. (Tracy Holmes photo)

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