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Little girl's small gesture leads to thousands of dollars raised for a dog rescue

People around the country are donating $27.25
A Place to Bark
Posted at 10:34 AM, Jan 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-16 10:34:43-05

PORTLAND, Tenn. (WTVF) — A little girl’s kind gesture is inspiring dozens of people to give back to an animal rescue in Portland, Tennessee, called A Place to Bark.

The 21-year-old nonprofit is a no-kill foster and adoption rescue dedicated to the welfare of dogs.

"I take them in; I get them well. I work with any behavioral issues, and we get them ready for adoption," said A Place to Bark founder Bernie Berlin.

Berlin said in recent years, volunteers haven’t been showing up to help; it’s been difficult hiring new employees, and donations have gone down.

Berlin started the new year off a little sad until 7-year-old Lila Stephens decided to take all the money in her piggy bank and donate it: a total of $27.25.

The two met for the first time in Franklin, Tennessee, for a pet adoption event. Her mom, Samantha Stephens, posted her daughter’s kind gesture to social media, and now other people are matching Lila’s donation to give to the rescue.

“We had a family friend who lives in Texas just messaged me and said, 'I would really like to match that because that’s so sweet she’s doing that.' We didn’t know Bernie’s need. We didn’t know she was going to get the donations. Everything came together at a time that made a big difference for Bernie," Stephens said.

Berlin said Lila is such a big inspiration.

"Like, right now, I have a bill over $1,000, and we spend $5,000 to $7,000 a month to spay and neuter. This month, we had over a thousand, and Lila’s little gift turned into a big gift that pays that bill off," Berlin said.

Donations for A Place to Bark are still coming in.

If you would like to match Lila’s $27.25 and give to A Place to Bark, here are some ways to do so: PayPal, Venmo (@aplacetobark), or mail: A Place To Bark PO Box 649 Portland, TN 37148.

This article was written by Aaron Cantrell for WTVF.