Local teen’s giving receives national acclaim

Thirteen-year-old Selena Schulz’s love for animals inspired her to become an accomplished author and widely known advocate – all within the span of five years.

And, her efforts in helping sheltered animals have led to recognition by Prudential Financial. She received a bronze medallion on May 14, as a Florida finalist in the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Since she turned 8 years old, Selena Schulz has spent time helping raise awareness and generate the donation of supplies for animal shelters. The Land O’ Lakes student was recently honored with a bronze medallion for the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. (Courtesy of Umphie Photos)

Schulz attends Countryside Montessori Charter School, which is located in Land O’ Lakes.

The seventh-grader recalled the source of her inspiration.

“When I was 7, I visited the animal shelter with my mom and saw the dogs weren’t sleeping on beds, but stacks of newspaper piled up,” she said.

When she asked why, the shelter coordinator explained that the facility was low on supplies and money.

Selena, who owns several pets herself, said that was heartbreaking.

“It was a sharp contrast between my pets and those I saw,” she said. “I wanted to bring them to the level of my pets so they would be treated fairly.”

So, for her eighth birthday, she decided that instead of receiving gifts, she wanted to collect donations for the shelter she had visited.

That became her birthday tradition.

She also came up the idea of creating her own organization, A Bed A Buck A Buddy.

She said “A Bed” stands for the supplies that animals need. “A Buck” stands for the monetary donations needed to support them. And, “A Buddy” stands for volunteers and adopters.

The organization aims to provide animal shelters with funds for adequate supplies and to help find permanent homes for Selena’s furry friends.

Selena Schulz, 13, displays her book trilogy that educates other kids about pet adoption and animal shelters. The books have raised money to help shelters across the United States and Canada. (Brian Fernandes)

She began writing books to elevate awareness about the need for permanent homes for pets and to help raise money for shelters.

At 8, she wrote and self-published her first book, “Cici’s Amazing Birthday.”

She wrote two additional books: “Purr-fect Friends Forever” and “The Squeaky Surprise.”

The trilogy of books explain that helping sheltered animals expands far beyond just dogs and cats.

“They’re geared toward elementary school kids so they can see that they can make a difference, too,” Selena said.

Selena’s parents support her efforts, every step of the way.

“She’s so humble and doesn’t ever talk about herself,” said Jomary, Selena’s mom. “She just does it because she loves it.”

Jomary has had a hand in the effort, too, using her artistic skills to help illustrate the first two books.

Selena’s best friend stepped up to help, too, illustrating the third book.

Over the years, Selena has sold her books at numerous events.

Her efforts have raised more than $5,000 for animal shelters throughout Florida, West Virginia, New York and Canada.

At school, Selena is a part of the National Junior Honor Society.

The organization’s advisor did not want Selena’s hard work to go unnoticed and recommended her for the Prudential award.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards has been honoring youth for their community service since 1995.

Although Selena has been awarded as a Florida finalist, she said her work is not finished.

Writing more books, especially novels, is at the top of her list, she said.

She would also like to see her organization expand and get involved in reaching shelters in additional states.

While Selena is happy to be involved with her charitable work, she believes her peers also are capable of doing the same. She hopes that more will get involved — helping one shelter, one animal, at a time.

Published May 15, 2019

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