“When it comes to animals, she’s not selfish at all”

At just 9 years old, Brides­burg res­id­ent Ariana Can­delar­ina has been col­lect­ing dona­tions for the Pennsylvania SPCA to en­sure that all an­im­als are taken care of this hol­i­day sea­son. 

Ariana Can­delar­ina, left, and her grand­fath­er, Bill Lorch, with their two pets Prin­cess Mid­night (left) and Luigi (right). CAR­O­LAN DI­FIORE/ STAR PHOTO

On Ariana Can­delar­ina’s Christ­mas list, you can find items pretty typ­ic­al of a 9-year-old girl. One item that stands out, however, con­cerns a cause big­ger than her­self. 

“An­im­als need a Christ­mas, too,” said Can­delar­ina, of Brides­burg, who since 2010 has been col­lect­ing dona­tions for the Pennsylvania SPCA to help shel­ter an­im­als dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, as well as all year round.  

Bill Lorch, Can­delar­ina’s grand­fath­er, com­mends his grand­daugh­ter’s ef­forts at such a young age. 

“When it comes to an­im­als, she does whatever she can to help them,” Lorch said. 

It all star­ted when Can­delar­ina was moved to tears upon watch­ing a news seg­ment about a rob­bery at the PSPCA. 

“She wanted to help them, so we told her to save up her money so she could donate it,” said Lorch, who ini­tially thought she for­got about it as time went on. He turned out to be quite mis­taken. 

Can­delar­ina col­lec­ted money she had, as well as money from fam­ily mem­bers. It began with a couple hun­dred dol­lars and some blankets. This year, Lorch’s liv­ing room is filled with boxes and bags of dog treats, toys, blankets and beds. 

Al­though Can­delar­ina keeps up her col­lec­tions year round, all dona­tions for the hol­i­days will be de­livered to the PSPCA on Decem­ber 21. 

Lorch cre­ated a Face­book event pro­mot­ing Can­delar­ina’s ef­forts, which has gen­er­ated a pos­it­ive re­sponse. 

“Every­one’s been call­ing say­ing that they have stuff for us,” Lorch said. Dona­tions can be dropped off at Brides­burg Pizza, 4766 Rich­mond St., as well as Lori’s Deli, 4790 Rich­mond St. 

“It feels ex­cit­ing to help the an­im­als, Can­delar­ina said. “It makes me really happy.”

There is no short­age of an­im­als in Can­delar­ina’s house­hold. She’s got a Chi­hua­hua and mini­ature Dober­man pinsch­er mix, Luigi, a black cat named Prin­cess Mid­night, and two iguanas. Al­though Can­delar­ina would like more pets, Lorch in­sists they have enough. 

“You really want every dog you see,” said Lorch to his grand­daugh­ter.

“She may be spoiled,” Lorche said, “But when it comes to an­im­als, she’s not selfish at all.”

Lorch said Can­delar­ina’s ef­forts are es­pe­cially en­joy­able to him, be­cause he views it as an op­por­tun­ity to bond with his only grand­daugh­ter. He in­sists, though, that it is still primar­ily a one-wo­man op­er­a­tion. 

“It’s our thing, just the two of us,” Lorch said. 

The PSPCA said it is es­pe­cially thank­ful for Can­delar­ina’s dona­tions. Linda Torelli, dir­ect­or of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­nic­a­tions at the PSPCA, men­tioned that while many chil­dren donate and vo­lun­teer once or twice, Can­delar­ina’s con­tinu­al in­volve­ment is something that sets her apart fro her peers. 

“We rely on people like Ariana,” Torelli said. “Our or­gan­iz­a­tion sur­vives on private dona­tions and on the sole gen­er­os­ity of people in the com­munity.”

Upon meet­ing Can­delar­ina just a few weeks ago, Torelli was moved by her work. “To be 9 years old and do­ing this on a con­tinu­al basis, this is par­tic­u­larly spe­cial,” Torelli said.

For those who can­not give fin­an­cially to the or­gan­iz­a­tion, Torelli sug­gests that there are many oth­er ways for people to get in­volved. 

“We are al­ways in need of gently used tow­els, bed­ding, and news­pa­pers, which we use to line the crates and cages,” Torelli said. In ad­di­tion, busy toys, food and treats are al­ways in great de­mand for the over 400 an­im­als that are housed at the shel­ter.

Can­delar­ina has high hopes for the fu­ture of her cam­paign to en­sure that all an­im­als have a warm, safe place to reside for the hol­i­days. 

“I would like to get up in­to the thou­sands,” Can­delar­ina said. Her ul­ti­mate long-term goal, however, is to own her own farm. 

“That way I can have all the an­im­als I want,” she said with en­thu­si­asm. ••

You can reach at cdifiore@bsmphilly.com.

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