Most of us have been 8 years old. Isa Lockwood is 8 now, and doing a better job of it than most.
Isa — pronounced ‘‘ee-sa” — has seen tigers since she was 4. Though her home-schooling single mom, Renee, rarely lets her watch regular television, Isa is allowed to watch the National Geographic channel.
“They do a lot of programs on tigers,” Isa said. “There’s so much information that tells us tigers are endangered, and that people are still killing them, making pretend medicine out of them.”
Isa, who lives in Olympia, knows there are limits to what an 8-year-old can do, but helping save endangered animals — specifically, Sumatran tigers — was not something she was able to walk away from.
So she started a Save the Animals club at the home-schooling co-op she attends twice a week, the Olympia Regional Learning Academy, enlisting fellow students and even a couple of teachers.
“You had to prove you really cared about tigers to join, so we knew if you were just trying to join a club,” Isa said. “You had to say what inspired you.”
There was one group that went uninvited.
“We didn’t let bullies in,” she said.
Isa enlisted two 8-year-old friends, Aubrey Tulloss and Isabelle McMorris, and Isabelle’s 9-year-old brother, Shawn, who has wanted to be a conservationist for years.
Just how were they going to go about helping save the animals?
“I thought the club was great, but I didn’t realize how serious they were,” said Mary McMorris, the mother of half the small group. “They made posters, they gathered things from friends and neighbors for a garage sale and did a lot of research.
“This wasn’t just a passing thing; this was passion!”
Isa’s mother, Renee, advertised the garage sale last weekend on Craigslist, explaining what it was for. Dozens of people showed up, many to support the cause.
“We had some items marked with a smile instead of a price, and people would give us $2, $3 for them,” Renee said. “The kids did all the work. They spent months getting the stuff, then weeks organizing it, pricing it all.”
On the day of the sale, Isa made a few late additions to the plan. She made apple-cherry juice, without sugar, for customers. And she put a donation box for the tigers in plain sight.
The sale went marvelously.
“All the Legos went really fast,” Isa said. “We sold a lot of games and stuffed animals. We all put a lot of our toys in.”
All told, counting the quarters and dollar bills at day’s end, the four kids came away with $160.
“We’re super proud of them for wanting to do something meaningful, for using their bright minds to come up with the idea,” said Melissa Tulloss, Aubrey’s mother. “They checked out a lot of library books, looked into the animals and how to raise money for them.”
Isa’s mom fully supported her daughter and the group.
“These are the kids that can make a difference,” she said. “We adults have already messed it up. If they can inspire any other kids, that’s wonderful. From the beginning, they wanted it to be about the animals, not about themselves.”
On Tuesday, the four youngsters arrived at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and met with Larry Norvell, executive director of The Zoo Society, and John Houck, the zoo’s deputy director.
The kids were given a private tour, including an audience with the Sumatran tigers.
Norvell has accepted larger donations, including some displayed on those huge, cardboard checks. This time, the money arrived as cash, much of it in change, delivered by three 8-year-olds and one 9-year-old.
“This money will go to tiger conservation, which we supported last year, too,” Norvell said. “It won’t get nibbled away by other programs.”
As for the kids, they were under no illusion that $160 would turn the tide for an endangered species.
“We want the money to help feed the tigers, to go to their habitat,” Isa said. “It’s what we wanted to do.”Larry LaRue: 253-597-8638