In her first year at a brand new school, 8-year-old Samantha Gibbons is learning the benefit of taking leadership and the power of giving.

The third-grade student at Cerritos Leadership Academy in Ahwatukee Foothills just moved from Maricopa with her parents over the summer, but according to her mother, Rebecca Berger, that didn’t stop Gibbons from reaching out to the community.

Doing a majority of the work on her own, Gibbons sold Krispy Kreme Doughnuts before the school bell rang on Nov. 21. Her 20 dozen Krispy Kremes sold out in about 20 minutes and raised a nearly $507 for the shelter — well above her initial goal of $400.

“We’re really proud of her and she was really proud of herself,” Berger said.

Gibbons came up with the idea to help animals after a recent trip to Sea World. After doing some online research, Gibbons found Arizona Rescue, a Phoenix no-kill animal shelter, and decided to raise money for the organization.

Jill Woodhull, of Arizona Rescue, said the funds will go toward the care of the shelter’s cats and dogs.

“I just think when a little girl goes out on her own to give back, it’s unique,” said Woodhull, the shelter’s project and event manager. “She’s a special little girl.”

In the few weeks leading up to her doughnut sale, Gibbons made fliers and posters for her fundraising and knocked on neighbor’s doors for presales.

Berger said her daughter also took the initiative to ask the school’s principal, Darcy DiCosmo, for permission to sell the doughnuts.

While making the transition to a new school was tough for Gibbons, after leaving behind a tight-knit school and lots of friends, Berger said the fundraiser opened the door for Gibbons to make more friends here in Ahwatukee.

“It made her feel like a really big part of the community,” she added.

Now assured that her only child is understanding the joy of giving and what it means to “pay it forward,” Berger hopes this generation of kids would, too.

“I hope that’s what happens with all the kids, that they learn to give,” Berger added. “You don’t get to keep unless you give.”

Cerritos Leadership Academy is located at 14620 S. Desert Foothills Parkway.

For more information about Arizona Rescue, visit


• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow on Twitter: @_dianamartinez.

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