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A Christmas wish comes true

Peyton Koskela, 10, is surrounded by all the toys and goodies she bought for the animals at the Friends of Animals Humane Society in Cloquet, thanks to donations from friends and family who heard that was the fourth-grader’s Christmas wish. Jana Peterson/

Ten-year-old Peyton Koskela already got her No. 1 Christmas wish fulfilled — and she didn’t keep any of it.

Peyton asked for “donations to the Friends of Animals (humane society)” in a letter to Santa earlier this month, and Friday she arrived at the local animal shelter with seven large boxes packed with toys and treats, along with pet beds and other goodies for all her furry friends at FOA.

“I know they have animals that have been here awhile,” Peyton said, adding that she has two dogs at home. “And I’ve loved animals my whole life.”

Mom Jesse Koskela said friends and family had been asking what Peyton wanted for Christmas and the fourth-grader posed the following questions to herself:

Do I need anything? Do I want anything?

The answer to both questions was “no,” so Peyton decided she would rather ask for donations to the local humane society where her mother is the volunteer coordinator and where she hopes to volunteer in the cat/kitten rooms someday soon.

“But we weren’t expecting her to write that to Santa,” said Jesse, explaining that Peyton wrote the surprise letter and dropped it in a mailbox for Santa at an airport, but not before Jesse snapped a photo of it, which she later posted to Facebook.

Jesse said Peyton’s grandmother went out and bought nearly $70 worth of pet beds, plus friends who saw the letter on Facebook donated another $175 or so. Mom and Dad donated too, and Payton even chipped in a few dollars from her piggy bank. Then Payton and her mom went shopping at several different local stores and bought lots of fun things for the animals, from tiny toy mice and balls for the cats to stuffed animals and rope toys for the dogs, plus plenty of treats.

Jesse calculated they arrived with close to $400 worth of stuff for the animals at the shelter.

“I can’t wait to get rid of all the old toys,” said FOA staff member Tina Wilson after Peyton and her mom brought everything in Friday. “We’ll throw out the old and put in the new.”

Still, Peyton wasn’t finished. The generous little girl had another Christmas wish for the animals at the shelter, a message she wanted to send to anyone reading this story:

“I’d like to tell them to go to their local animal shelter and adopt an animal today,” she said. “Because animals have been here, some for years, and they need a good home and to be cared for more.

“I just really want them to have a home for Christmas.”

The Friends of Animals Humane Society is open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and noon to 7 p.m. Monday at its current location on the frontage road between Highway 33 and Wal-Mart, at 1418 Highway 33 South. They are closed to the public Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this week, plus New Year’s Day next week.

The humane society is hoping to move into its new building on Avenue B in downtown Cloquet in the spring.