All Daniel Jaicks wanted for his 16th birthday, which was on April 9th, was a lawnmower.
Since that big gift was covered, Daniel’s mother Joanna Jaicks asked the teen with autism if he would like his friends to bring him gifts at his birthday party or to instead bring pet food for the animals at South Carolina’s Charleston Animal Society, where he volunteered — the answer to that question came quite quickly, his mom explained to PEOPLE.
“Daniel chose the animals right away,” Joanna goes on to say. “We’re very proud of him for making that choice!”
At his birthday party at Velocity Air Sports, which is an indoor trampoline park in North Charleston, Daniel collected $95 in cash and checks, two 50 lb. bags of dog food, two 25 lb. bags of food, four 5 lb. bags and a gift bag with cat toys and treats from about 30 guests.
All of the said items will go to benefit animals at the Charleston shelter, where the teen has visited twice with his social/life-skills group, and the shelter couldn’t be more thankful.
“What an awesome gift for the animals,” stated a Facebook post shared by the animal society on April 13.
“Thank you, Daniel, you are a kind and loving young man”.
During their various visits to the shelter, the teens learned how to behave around animals, how to care for them, and helped make toys for the shelter’s cats — all of which Joanna explains was beneficial to Daniel.
“Especially in how to properly interact with dogs upon first encountering them,” she adds. “We also have 1 dog and 4 cats at home. Daniel has been around animals since he was born.”
While it hasn’t been scheduled, Joanna anticipates a third visit for the entire group. Until that time, Daniel is having a ball with that brand spanking new lawnmower his parents gave him as a birthday present.
“He LOVES it!” Joanna stated in an email. “It’s a Husqvarna, and he’s thrilled with it.”
Photo credits: JOANNA JAICKS │ h/t: people.com