Hollister School student Maya Lewandowski is kicking off her “Pets for Pets” campaign to raise funds for the Santa Barbara Humane Society for the month of October.
Maya, a 9-year-old from Goleta, started a business last November called Wigglo Pets. The young entrepreneur was inspired by a toy her father played with at her age. She created a prototype, made modifications and started selling the toy locally and on the Internet.
Soon, she was invited to the Los Angeles toy company ironically called the Maya Group (creators of Orbeez) to discuss partnering with her. Although a deal was not made, children from all over the world, from Canada to Russia and The Netherlands to Israel, have been enjoying her interactive pets.
Now, nearly a year later, Maya has chosen to help a local organization near and dear to her heart, the Santa Barbara Humane Society. In December 2010, Maya’s family adopted a rescue dog, Lucy, who had been abandoned in Carpinteria. Maya quickly fell in love with the mixed breed.
Shortly after getting her puppy, Maya and her family went to the Santa Barbara Humane Society to have the pup spayed. When Maya saw the computers in the nonprofit’s offices she exclaimed, “Those are older than the ones at my school!” She learned that the SBHS was able to offer services at much lower costs (like the $60 spaying compared to a local vet at $300) by cutting back on expenses like computers and the like. That day, Maya vowed she would do what she could to help the Humane Society upgrade their system.
In 2011 she used her two passions, animals and art, and hosted an art show raising nearly $1,500 for the SBHS. The fifth-grader felt compelled to continue to assist the Humane Society and created the “Pets for Pets” campaign that kicked off Tuesday. Every person who makes a donation of $25 or more and mentions “Pets for Pets” or “Wigglo Pets” will receive a free Wigglo Pet of their own.
She isn’t sure exactly how much she can help the Humane Society raise, but her initial goal was $7,000. Maya is no stranger to donating. Last holiday season, she saw how much children loved her creations, so she donated 25 of her Wigglo Pets to the Unity Shoppe in Santa Barbara.
Wigglo Pets are not only available for a donation, but can also be purchased locally at Bennett’s Educational Materails at 5130 Holister Ave. in Santa Barbara, as well as the Carpinteria Toy Store at 5285 Carpinnteria Ave. A portion of her sales of Wigglo Pets will also be donated to the Santa Barbara Humane Society.
To make a donation, click here or call the Humane Society at 805.964.4777, or just walk right in to the facility at 5399 Overpass Road in Goleta.
Learn more about the “Pets for Pets” campaign on Facebook by clicking here. To purchase Wigglo Pets online, search for them on Fiverr.com as well as Etsy.com. To see Wigglo Pets in action, search for “Wigglo Pets” on YouTube.
“I love making kids happy with my toys and I also love helping animals,” says the proud owner of Wigglo Pets. “I hope I can continue to do this for a very long time.”
— Leon Lewandowski is Maya's father.