Girl shares her birthday joy with Wildlife Center critters
By Linda Girardi For The Courier-News March 21, 2013 5:22PM
Erika Denker , 11, left and sister Keira, 9, of Campton Hills react to a rehabbing coyote Wednesday during a visit to Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Elburn. Erika asked family and friends to purchase gift cards or give donations to the wildlife rehabilitation center rather than give her birthday gifts. Her sister Keira, 9, did the same on her birthday with donations going to Anderson Animal Shelter. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:20PM
While most little girls are fond of fancy hair ribbons and fashion trends for birthday gifts, 11-year-old Erika Denker instead chose to have presents from her 11th birthday go toward helping the orphaned and sick animals of the Fox Valley Wildlife Center.
“Animals are another living thing. Why would we treat them differently than people?” the fifth grader at Bell-Graham Elementary School in St. Charles said.
Erika asked friends from her youth theater group to bring charitable gift cards to her birthday party on Jan. 12 to donate to the non-profit animal hospital located in the small quarters of a former ranger’s house within the Elburn Woods Forest Preserve.
“I felt much happier knowing I would be helping out instead of having presents for myself,” she said. “We may not see the animals all of the time but we should be thinking about them.”
Erika this week met with a few of the center’s volunteer rehabilitation specialists impressed by her kindness and thoughtfulness about nature’s most vulnerable wildlife left at their door-step.
Julie Denker said her daughter is incredibly wise for her age. “Erika is a gentle soul,” the mother said.
The wildlife hospital, founded in 2000, is gearing up for its annual April Baby Shower fundraiser — a time of season that is particularly busy for the center. The event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. April 7 at the center, 45W061 Highway 38, west of Route 47 in Elburn.
“Erika is very good-hearted to be thinking of the animals,” said Andrea Krueger, vice-president of the board of directors.
“The gift cards come in handy when we are out of baby formula, food and medical supplies.”
A range of animals — fox, Great Horned owls and a variety of bird species — in the hospital have been impacted by man in one way or another. The injured and orphaned animals are given medical attention and if needed, are hand-fed around the clock and when fully recuperated are released back into the wild and given a second chance at life.
Erika said the Fox Valley Repertory theatrical group at the Pheasant Run resort that she is in has done performances and requested audiences make charitable donations in exchange for a free admission. Donations from the production of “Snow White,” were sent to the Fox Valley Wildlife Center.
The youngster said earlier in the school year her class learned about the importance of protecting the Animal Kingdom no matter how small or big.
“If one animal group was removed, the other parts would not work because they all depend on each other,” Erika said. “Sometimes we have to help one group that isn’t doing so well,” she said.
Erika and her younger sister, 9-year-old Keira, got to meet one of the resident ambassadors, Lucy the Canada goose, who likes to eat pieces of banana. They also toured the room of recuperating birds.
“I am really not into the girl stuff. I see the work they do here and feel really good about doing something for the good of the animals,” Erika said.
Visit www.fvwc.org for a wish list of items for the upcoming Baby Shower fundraiser or to make an online donation.