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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Girls' love of kittens leads to comic strip, calendar benefitting McCook Humane Society

Friday, October 12, 2012

Members of the "Cat Pack" join Chloe and Sarah Dixon as they present a check for more than $1,000 to Lorie Prestes, representing the McCook Humane Society. From left are Deanne Crocker, Linda Dixon, the girls' mother, Sarah Dixon, Madison and McKenna Cooper, Jean Hester, representing KRD Credit Union, Chloe Dixon, Lorie Prestes and Melinda Gillespi. Calendar project team members not pictured are Kyli Scott, Rose Stoney, Mia and Madison Sutton and Kirk Dixon, the girls' father.
(Dawn Cribbs/McCook Daily Gazette)
Initially, Chloe and Sarah Dixon just wanted to see the kittens. When they found out that they could visit the kittens and help socialize them, making them more adoptable, the two little girls were thrilled.

But that was just the beginning -- the beginning of an ongoing relationship with the staff at the McCook Humane Society and with all of the animals sheltered there while they wait for new "forever homes."

As time went on, the girls continued to support the Humane Society and Chloe, then a fifth-grader at Central Elementary, developed the comic strip "Super Switch -- The Return of Katnip World," in honor of Super Switch, a family pet rescued from a Kansas farm years ago.

The Dixon girls are surprised to receive a special plaque, made and donated by McCook Lettering, honoring their commitment to the McCook Humane Society. Standing from left are Deanne Crocker, Madison Cooper, Melinda Gillespi, Sarah Dixon, Chloe Dixon and Lorie Prestes. Back: McKenna Cooper and Kaylee Jebbins.
(Dawn Cribbs/McCook Daily Gazette)
Super Switch has weekly adventures chronicled in the McCook Daily Gazette, and frequently reminds readers of the importance of adopting shelter animals. Current events are often chronicled, with the characters in Katnip World learning new life lessons from each new experience. Chloe has met every deadline and hasn't missed a single Friday publication in more than two years and she never fails to give her younger sister credit when she helps with the illustrations.

In May, 2011, Walmart general manager Nate Henning accepted Chloe and Sarah's proposal to sponsor a critter cupcake sale for "Be Kind to Animals" month. The Walmart bakery team created Super Switch Cupcake cakes with proceeds from every sale going to the humane society and the bakery raised $200 for the shelter.

A poster board display, assembled by Lorie Prestes, chronicles the summer-long calendar project through each stage of production as well as past fundraising projects Chloe and Sarah have supported since 2009.
(Dawn Cribbs/McCook Daily Gazette)
That fundraiser was followed up over summer break with Chloe and Sarah's first volunteer project involving more than a dozen community sponsors, "The Super Switch Coloring Book." When all the crayons and colorful drawings were submitted, with the support of RYE Printing & Splash Designs, it was a volunteer effort which raised another $240 in shelter donations by September 2011.

This past summer, the girls wanted to go bigger and better so they embarked on another Super Switch project with a purpose, designing "The Cats and Dogs of McCook Calendar," to honor the memory of Amber Husted, who died unexpectedly May 29; and to raise $1,000 for the McCook shelter. They obtained a print sponsor, solicited photographs of animals from the citizens of McCook and from family members, and found other sponsors, including Community Hospital, KRD Credit Union, Crop Production Services, Longnecker Jewelry, Trenton Electric Co., Willow Ridge Senior Living Community, even the Texas Roadhouse in Grand Island. Private donations from "animal-loving neighbors, friends and family" also moved the project along.

Family, friends and McCook Humane Society board members help Chloe and Sarah Dixon celebrate the completion of their summer project "The Cats and Dogs of McCook calendar," raising more than $1,000 for the humane society. Seated at the table from left are Kalie Jebbins, McKenna and Madison Cooper, Melinda Gillespi, Linda Dixon, the girls' mother, and their grandparents, Merv and Bev Schliefert. Standing are Mary Keslin, board treasurer, Amber Husted's grandfather, Denny Kofler, Jean Hester from KRD Federal Credit Union, Sarah Dixon, Monica Conroy, board member, Lorie Prestes, Gerald Kelsch, board member and Anne Dowd, president of the McCook Humane Society board.
(Dawn Cribbs/McCook Daily Gazette)
Throughout the past three years of volunteering with small and large fundraising ideas for the humane society a group referred to as the friends of Super Switch was formed (also known as The "Cat Pack") who are friends and family who team up with the two girls to support creative fundraising initiatives like: lemonade stands, bake sales, bookmarks, kennel adoptions, rummage sale donations, shelter gift certificates, Heritage Days parade participation, and this year's calendar booth at the Heritage Days Art & Craft sale. Cat Pack team members (past and present) have included: Kyli Scott, Mia and Madison Sutton, McKenna and Madison Cooper, Rose Stoney, Melinda Gillespie, Kaylee Jebbins, Deanne Crocker, Sydney Hanson, Zane and Cleo Walker, and numerous family members.

On Saturday, supporters, family and friends all gathered at the Republican River Valley Event Center for the check presentation to the McCook Humane Society Board of Directors and Lorie Prestes, the former shelter director who has been volunteering her time and expertise while the search for a new director continues. Prestes had put together a poster board display showing the many stages of development of the calendar and past fundraising projects since 2009, and all of the publicity has garnered. With a proud smile, Chloe took the lead Saturday in front of an audience of family and friends, presenting a check for more than $1,000 to Lorie Prestes, in Amber's memory. Then with a proud smile of her own, Lorie detained the Cat Pack, Chloe and Sarah, and surprised the two Dixon girls with a plaque of appreciation from the McCook Humane Society Board of Directors.

Recalling the first time they met, Lorie said, "I knew instantly that these girls were special. They asked all the right questions and wanted to know 'how can we make a difference?'" She told them, "You already have. This little guy was all hiss and now he's a loving, affectionate kitten." They're still making a difference, Lorie said, a sentiment echoed by the girls' father, Kirk Dixon, who wore a proud smile throughout the afternoon's activities. "We are so proud of these girls," he said, "They just need the smallest little nudge, a little encouragement and they're ready for anything." Their mother, Linda Dixon and her parents, Merv and Bev Schliefert, who were also in attendance, also beamed with pride and admiration.

Calendars are still available at the McCook Humane Society and Willow Ridge Senior Living Community, a 16-month version for a suggested donation of $5 and 2013 At A Glance, for a suggested donation of $2 each or three for $5. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the shelter.

Chloe and Sarah both more than exemplify the Super Switch Motto: "Be Brave -- Show Courage -- Do the Right Thing."

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