SOUTH FORSYTH -- February is the month of love, according to card stores and a Forsyth County student who wants to show her love for animals.
Hannah Testa is selling cookies, good-luck charms and other elephant-themed items from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Sugarboo Designs to support the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya.
The trust is a nonprofit that takes care of orphaned elephants and rhinos in Africa whose parents were killed for their tusks and horns.
“Since I was little, for my birthday my mom would give me an elephant [by donating money to the nonprofit to adopt an animal]. I’ve had one since I was 7,” the 12-year-old said.
“I’ve always had a passion for them. I loved the fact that I had my own elephant in Kenya. It’s my way of helping even though I couldn’t physically be there.”
She said $50 buys an adopted baby elephant for one year.
“I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s for a good cause. It’s like taking care of a child. You have to feed it and give it a home,” Testa said. “It’s a great way to waste my money. They deserve a better life than what they had before.”
The Vickery Creek Middle School sixth-grader has done more than just raise funds for elephants. She recently led a campaign and community awareness initiative for a nonprofit animal rescue farm called Save the Horses, said her mother, Farida Testa. She collected more than $2,300 for the organization to buy food and medicine.
She obtained more than 1,700 petitions and letters from around the world for an Atlanta nonprofit called One More Generation to protect South African rhinos. She helped build a large paper-mache rhino, named Elvis the Rhino, which was displayed in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in 2013.
She even traveled to Miami at the beginning of 2015 to join thousands in protest of the captivity of Lolita, an Orca that has been kept for 44 years in a concrete tank that doesn’t meet government standards at the Miami Seaquarium.
While the initial elephant-focused event is Thursday, her mother said there will be other fundraisers throughout February.
Sugarboo, a family-owned business whose mission is to make items “with a message that add soul to a home,” will donate proceeds from elephant T-shirts and artwork associated with Hannah Testa’s effort.
Testa said she connected with the business after realizing the owner had been looking for an elephant sanctuary to send money.
The store, which is new to The Collection at Forsyth, has an elephant in its logo.
“I think they’re beautiful,” Testa said. “There’s 33,000 in the wild that were killed last year for their ivory. It’s not right, but [poachers] are doing it for the money.”