When a Highlands Ranch 9-year-old's dog passed away, she didn't let sadness take over. Instead, she's using her story and the holiday season to give back to pets without homes in her Colorado community.
It was around Christmas last year when Milly Kukuczka lost her best friend. It was the dog she'd had since she was a baby.
"She was a Border Collie mix and her name was Bella," said Milly.
"It's been really hard the last year to watch her struggle with that," said Milly's mom, Ashley Kukuczka.
But this Christmas, Milly decided to help other pets.
"I thought it was sad that pets didn't have owners, especially around the holidays," said Milly.
"We asked her for her Christmas list and what she wanted for Christmas and she went in her art room and came out with a flier and wanted to do a pet drive donation," said Ashley.
Her parents reached out to the Dumb Friends League in Denver, shared the pet drive on social media, and soon the community had jumped in to help.
"We've partnered with our gym and with her school, we've set boxes up there. I'm collecting some at my work, my husband's collecting some at his work," said Ashley.
Milly wants to collect as many toys, food items, and pet supplies as she can. She wants every pet who doesn't have an owner to have a present to open on Christmas.
"Treats, and bones, and some food," said Milly as she looked through a donation bag.
"There's like 50 toys in there already. We have boxes of treats and cat scratchers. I think there's five or six dog beds already," said Ashley.
At just 9, Milly is serving as Santa for shelter pets.
"Just make sure every pet feels love, even if they don't have a home on Christmas," said Ashley.
"Even though you're little you can still make a big difference," said Milly.
BackCountry CrossFit in Littleton is accepting donations for Milly. The pet drive will go until Thursday Dec. 21. Then Milly will hand deliver them to the Denver Dumb Friends League, so the pets can get their presents just in time for Christmas.
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