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Kids sell lemonade to help sick bear at Holtsville Ecology Center

Olivia Caminiti, Rylee Abbatiello, Angelo Abbatiello, Mia Caminiti

Olivia Caminiti, Rylee Abbatiello, Angelo Abbatiello, Mia Caminiti and Krysta Abbatiello sold lemonade to raise money for Pooh Bear, a 19-year-old black bear that lives at the Holtsville Ecology Center. Photo Credit: Anne Caminiti

When Anne Caminiti of Centereach and her daughters, Mia, 6, and Olivia, 3, heard that Pooh Bear, a 19-year-old black bear that lives at the Holtsville Ecology Center, needs $400 a month for osteoarthritis that causes Pooh pain, stiffness and a limp, they decided to help their beloved bear out by selling lemonade to raise money.

“My kids and I always go to the ecology center, and the center posted on their Facebook page that Pooh Bear was sick,” Caminiti says. “The bear is adorable.” She and her daughters enlisted the help of Caminiti’s best friend, Nikki Abbatiello of Ronkonkoma, and her children, Krysta, 6, Angelo, 4, and Rylee, 2. The night before the sale they made signs and flyers, passed the word to neighborhood families and posted on the Middle Country Moms Facebook page. They raised $115 in just a few hours, selling lemonade at 50 cents a cup and taking additional donations.

“We were so proud of the kids, and they were so excited to get over to . . . Holtsville and give them the money for Pooh Bear,” Caminiti says. “Even at their young ages we feel it is important for them to learn to give back and help others.”

Pooh Bear lives at the ecology center with his sister, Honey Bear. “He’s definitely on the senior side animal wise,” says Kellei Burke, a board member of Brookhaven Wildlife Center, the nonprofit that raises the money for food and veterinary services for the animals at the center. She says she was “totally shocked” by the kids’ donation. “It was very cute,” she says.

The ecology center said thanks with this post on the center’s Facebook page: “Pooh Bear is so happy today! His little friends heard about him not feeling well and wanted to help raise money for his medication . . . Thank you very much for loving and supporting our boy Pooh!”

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