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Happy Hollow Blog

Young donors make a big impact

Friday, 5/15

Nine-year-old Brandon Ho of Sunnyvale was so touched by a recent email from Happy Hollow Foundation about how the zoo animals are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic that he asked his parents to make a $100 donation.

Brandon Ho

His parents suggested that instead of relying on others, Brandon should “put his money where his mouth is.” The boy didn’t even hesitate to offer his entire savings of $100, which he had saved up to buy toys and games.

“We were heartened by his generosity,” said Brandon’s dad, David, who along with his wife, Ina, decided to match the donation. They also submitted a request for a matching donation from their employer. “Brandon was super excited to see his impact being tripled.”

Even as the world shifts and shudders due to COVID-19, heartening stories like Brandon’s are everywhere — and maybe it’s no surprise that for Happy Hollow, some of the best anecdotes star young people.

When Beni Seballos of Santa Clara showed her 6-year-old daughter Sam a Happy Hollow email featuring a photo of the new lemur pup, Sam insisted her family had to do something to help.

“Not that I needed any prodding,” Beni said. “Happy Hollow is dear to us. We spent many weekends there when Sam was between the ages of 3 and 5. We even bought passes for two of our neighbor kiddos so I could bring them with us. So when we saw the story of Happy Hollow’s newest addition, it was an easy decision to give.”

Sam Seballos


Another donation came from 16-year-old Kaaya Sharma of San Jose, a volunteer in Happy Hollow’s Zooteen program. Kaaya not only made a $325 gift to the foundation — she set up a recurring monthly donation to keep the support coming, and all this money comes from her pet-sitting business.

“I’ve been donating part of my profits to animal rescue agencies for some time, and Happy Hollow was the next natural step,” Kaaya said. “I have so many sweet memories of this place since childhood. I was lucky and fortunate to have Happy Hollow near my home while growing up. It was time to give back to a place that gave me so much.”

Kaaya Sharma

During the COVID-19 crisis, the outpouring of generosity and love from Happy Hollow donors, members and lifelong fans has been remarkable. People have sent adorable photos. They told touching and amusing stories. And many proudly shared that after making memories with their own children at Happy Hollow, they now get to experience this special place all over again with their grandkids.

“Particularly with so much sadness, worry and fear filling the world, it is incredibly uplifting to be reminded how much Happy Hollow is cherished,” said Amy Pizarro, Executive Director of Happy Hollow Foundation. “More than ever I want to get to the other side of this crisis so we can open the gates and welcome back the guests who truly bring this place to life.”