Halley is a 12-year-old philanthropist, writer, and activist. She, of course, did not become all of these things overnight.
At age 8, a very shy Halley initiated a simple bake sale at her school. If she was going to raise money for something, her mother told her she needed to donate the proceeds to a worthy cause. That first sale resulted in over $300, all donated to Great Plains SPCA, the animal agency that her beloved white Shepard Taibei had been adopted from a year before she was born. It turned out that selling baked goods to strangers was not so hard when it was a cause she cared about, and her shyness fell into the background. Immediately when that first bake sale was over she began planning to expand and do things bigger and better a year later, literally creating a presentation board for the people she would approach.
Paws Up KC became the name under which she conducted her philanthropic work the following year, speaking to several preschool groups, conducting more bake sales, and collecting donations. Three years later when it was clear that she was not slowing down, an organizational board was established by Halley, her philanthropy was incorporated, and they received their nonprofit, 501(c)(3) status. Halley was officially not just a philanthropist but an entrepreneur and an organization founder.
Paws Up KC seeks to combine two community service issues: literacy and animal adoption. Halley believes every household needs a stack of good books and a pet to cuddle with, and the core audience for these two interests often overlap so why not combine them?
By giving out free books through the Paws Up KC bookmobile she encourages reading and uses the opportunity to seek donations that will benefit local animal shelters in the Kansas City area. And by reading to dogs and cats at her local shelter other days of the week, she highlights educational themes and diverse subjects and characters that ordinarily don’t get widespread attention. If you’re going to help socialize adoptable cats at the shelter by reading to them, you might as well read about Satchel Paige and the Negro Leagues players, George Takei and his childhood in the internment camps, or Jim Thorpe and his success as Native athlete!
As a biracial kid living in a community where most things are named after Native tribes that the local community has no direct connection with, her enthusiasm for fairness and decency has also placed her in a unique position to seek equity in her public school district. In 2021 she mounted a successful letter writing campaign resulting in a unanimous school board vote to review all mascots in the school district, eliminating any that appropriated Native culture. Through creation of a community newsletter she has also directly advocated for elderly and immigrant homeowners in her neighborhood, who are often overlooked by city planners.
These efforts have put Halley in direct communication with authors, publishers, museum directors, town Mayors, tribal authorities, and local businesses. She and Paws Up KC have been awarded locally and nationally. And she is still only 12, so the future is limitless…