LOWER MAKEFIELD >> A Lower Makefield 12-year-old is throwing a “pawty” on Sunday, Sept. 13 in support of Alpha Bravo Canine and Four the Paws. And the community is encouraged to lend its support.
Nicky Christopher, known around his township neighborhood as the Birthday Lawn Bandit, wanted to do something to help his four-legged friends at Alpha Bravo and Four the Paws.
So with the help of his mom and his friends the Pennwood Middle School student is organizing a contactless drop-off collection event and fundraiser in the parking lot of the Lower Makefield Township Pool on Edgewood Road.
“We wanted to make it safe,” said Nicky’s mom, Sara, a classified records specialist with the Pennsbury School District. “We’ll also be giving out free hand sanitizer.”
“Pawty goers” are asked to drop off donations any time between 12 and 4 pm. Just drive into the parking lot and Nicky and his friends will collect the donations and place them in collection bins. You don’t even have to leave the car.
The event will be accepting monetary donations for both organizations as well as gift cards for local pet stores and large retailers like Target and Wal-Mart.
In addition, Alpha Bravo is looking for donations of poop bags, dog treats, new dog toys, Cheerios and canned pumpkin (not the raw or the sugary, spicy pie filling). For the cats, donations can include cat food (wet or dry), new cat toys and clean towels.
Anyone who donates will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win gift cards and a free visit from the Birthday Lawn Bandit. And anyone who donates $20 or more will receive a handmade dog bandana sewn by a 13-year-old volunteer.
Alpha Bravo Canine, a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia, teams service dogs with U.S. veterans suffering from debilitating medical and psychological problems as a result of their active combat duty. They are currently training three new dogs - Tristan, Lando and Blake, named after three fallen heroes.
Four the Paws, a non-profit based in Yardley with an adoption center at PetValu in Newtown, is dedicated to the rescue of abandoned, injured, and homeless strays in the Bucks County and Philadelphia areas. Animals receive immediate and appropriate veterinary attention, including a wellness exam, testing, age-appropriate vaccines, and any additional medical assistance.
Nicky and his family have three dogs of their own - Franky, Teddy and Jubilee. All three are Shih Tzus and bring constant love, joy and support to the family.
Many in Lower Makefield may know Nicky as the neighborhood Birthday Lawn Bandit.
For the past four months, Nicky has been surprising the young and old with birthday, anniversary and new pet lawn raids, complete with balloons, signs, chalk art and messages.
“It all started out with the quarantine and the fact that kids couldn’t celebrate birthdays. The idea was we could come in and spread some cheer throughout the community,” said Sara.
“The idea is he’s a bandit, but instead of taking things he’s giving things. He comes in and ‘raids’ the lawn with messages like ‘Honk, it’s my birthday.’ He also makes birthday candles out of pool noodles. He literally decorates the whole lawn,” she said.
In exchange, he asks for a donation to cover his costs and to support his three charities, including Alpha Bravo Canine, Four the Paws and RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
Nicky said he hasn’t yet had a request for pink flamingos, but he did decorate one neighbor’s lawn with pictures of Sloths.
“We try to make it special,” said Nicky. “If they like soccer we put soccer balls out. If they like dinosaurs we’ll put pictures out showing dinosaurs,” he said.
One time he nearly got caught, said his mom.
While Nicky was decorating a lawn late at night, the birthday boy and his brother unexpectedly came outside. Nicky and his mom quickly ducked behind a car and laid in the grass while they walked around the decorated yard. Lucky for Nicky he and his mom escaped undetected.
Nicky also conducted a raid on the lawn at the Family Service Association’s Homeless Shelter in Levittown, surprising all the children there.
After his work was featured on Action News, US Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick presented Nicky with a flag flown over the US Capitol and recognized Nicky on the floor of the House of Representatives and read his name into the Congressional Record.
Since he started his lawn bandit activities in May, Nicky has decorated more than 200 lawns, according to Sara.
“We never thought it was going to get this big,” she said.
“I am super proud of Nicky,” she added. “Being able to get out there and share this joy and spread some sunshine in a time where there’s so much negativity is really impressive.”