What were you doing when you were 6-years-old? Likely not creating handmade toys to sell to fund the adoptions and care for shelter cats.
That’s just what Octavia Burkhart wanted to do though.
Her mom Stacey tells us of how it all started back in May 2018.
The gals were out driving around on a few errands one day. She asked her daughter if she would like to do a summer project with her when school got out.
Octavia said “yes”, but when mom asked if she had any idea what she’d like it to do, she wouldn’t have guessed where her request would lead!
Right away, Octavia told her that she wanted to make cat toys and sell them so she could help the cats at the cat sanctuary pay for food.
That sanctuary is the now famous Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, where the “Cat Grandpa” so recently went viral for napping with cats. That is how we found out about Octavia’s amazing efforts!
Octavia then went on to tell Stacey that they could make toys for the cats that don’t like people very much, so they would have a toy and not be alone. The sanctuary has private rooms for cats that have been abused or mistreated, so she recognized that there are a few that don’t socialize well.
Let me remind you again…6-years-old! This young girl has more compassion, understanding and good-will in her heart that most adults.
Initially, Stacey figured they’d begin their “purroject” once school was out for the summer, but fate had other designs.
Safe Haven put out a call for donations after they had agreed to receive a large number of rescue cats from down south.
The dynamic duo jumped into action! They decided on two initial toys, a mouse and a spider.
Family Siamese cat, Zeus, was happy to be the Testing Department for their creations.
Octavia definitely got her “crazy cat purrson” gene from her dad, whom Zeus belonged too before meeting her crafty mom. Purrfect combination there! Mom started out as more of a dog person, but quickly warmed up to loving Zeus.
Making toys wasn’t completely out of the norm for Octavia to want to do though.
Stacey actually works from home as a toy-maker. She had seen first hand what it takes to make toys but now was ready to take the lead.
First, they drew up a few design ideas and patterns. Mom cut out the pieces and they saddled up to the sewing machine.
Octavia had sat on Stacey’s lap before to sew, but this was the first time it was to create something from her own designs. Super-mom Stacey wanted Octavia to participate in as much of the creation as possible on her own.
“I determined that the best way for her to create eyes on the mice and faces on the spider was to use a fabric marker. I wasn’t much interested in trying to teach a then 5-year-old how to embroider”, she laughs.
They also wanted to use up-cycled materials, so the tail of the mice and the legs of the spider are actually t-shirt sleeves cut up into strips and knotted. The ears of the mice are vintage polyester for a little flair.
After they had the patterns set and a few examples made, they put a call out to friends and family to see if anyone would like to make a purchase. Mice were affordably priced at $2.50, and spiders were $4.00, but they’ve since focused on the mice.
Many of their supportive friends were quick to order, and in the first month, they raised nearly $200!
Octavia worked with Stacey on each step, from putting the orders together to writing “Thank you” notes to carrying anything that needed to be shipped to our mailbox.
They had so much fun during the process, but mom’s lessons didn’t stop there.
In June, they officially announced the project had become a full fledged business and Kinyoda Cats was born! Octavia keeps $.25 from each cat toy sale, but the rest goes back to the sanctuary.
Octavia even opened her very first bank account in August.
They are always sure to slow down for some much needed “kid time” though.
No one wants to “adult” too early in life!
In August, they also did a fundraiser for the Fox Valley Humane Association in Appleton, WI.
They created a Harry Potter “snitch” cat toy in memory of a rescue cat named Weasley. Generously raising $100 that month from the sale of Snitches, they used it to sponsor the adoption fees of 5 adult cats at the Humane Association!
We’re not the only ones who recognized the utterly fantastic and aMEOWzing human that Octavia is.
On Sunday, Sept 30, Octavia will run out on to Lambeau Field with the Green Bay Packers as the Official Shopko Kickoff Kid!
She will retrieve the tee at kickoff, and be recognized for her efforts to raise money for the cat sanctuary on the Jumbo screen.
Her photo will be on the back cover of over 80,000 Game Day Programs!
Octavia had a blast during the photo shoot in July prepping for her honor.
Three lucky kittens from Safe Haven joined her for the pictures, shot on a beautifully sunny day in Wisconsin.
Shopko even gave her a basket of goodies which she promptly donated to the shelter as a “thank you” for allowing the fur-babies to participate.
It is an EXTREMELY exciting event for the whole family and happening in just a few days. Be sure to watch the game if you can!
They are overjoyed and know “It’s pretty surreal for a 6-year-old.”
We are very inspired by what they’ve accomplished in such a short time and stemming from such a young mind.
Please be sure to follow her Facebook page for the amazing work Octavia and Stacey do (along with the support of dad and her 2 twin sisters, Adeline and June who just turned 4).
Message them to Place Your Order Now!
They’ve also branched out and are now painting rocks with some of our favorite cat puns.
Thank you very much to Stacey for all the great guidance you’ve given to your children and allowing their creativity to flourish. Also for the smiles we couldn’t hold back reading your signature =)
“Kinyoda Cat Mom”
aka “Kinyoda Cats’ Free Labor”
aka “Octavia’s Sewing Teacher”
aka “The Foot behind the foot pedal”
You inspire me, Octavia! I am passing on this article to all my cat pals! And I can’t wait to see your Facebook page!
God bless Octavia for what she is doing.