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High school senior is animal shelter's largest private donor

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Sieg Heppner, USAG Mannheim Public Affairs
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FILE

A Crescent High senior has spent half his life donating to Anderson County's PAWS animal shelter.

Adoption Supervisor Randi Leigh Ashley was sitting at the front desk, in shock, the first year that third-grader Braxton Louch walked in lugging bags of food with his family.

"I did not expect this from a 9-year-old," said Ashley, who's worked at PAWS for 13 years. "He was one of the first kids at the time to do something of this magnitude."

Now half of a lifetime later, Louch is the agency's largest private donor.

After donating around 10 pounds of food to PAWS animal shelter to begin, he started a new tradition that brought in $10,000 last year alone.

The Louches have hosted an annual Cars for a Cause for eight years and running, so it's only fitting that Louch is turning 18 on the day of this year's fundraiser.

The event started after the then-indecisive 9-year-old asked for donations toAnderson County's PAWS animal shelter instead of gifts for his birthday.

"I just always loved animals," the Crescent High School senior said. "I don't like doing stuff for myself, I'd rather do stuff for other people."

After Ashley heard about his plan to donate instead of receiving birthday gifts, she wanted to thank him by posting a photo on social media.

He kneeled down next to Chewy, the Chihuahua, who responded with a big smile, Ashley said. Because of that post, Chewy was adopted.

Louch's love for animals stems from a home that always took in the outcasts, said his mom Teryi Louch. That's evident by the four dogs happily playing outside and their four cats lounging inside, all rescued.

On a sunny Monday afternoon, Oreo, a Dalmatian mix, obsessed with tennis balls but ready to play fetch with any object, set a rock down at Louch's feet. Meanwhile, Buddy, a Bully mix, trotted over for a pat before wandering on his own adventure.

"As a mom, I can't express how proud I am of him," she said, of Braxton's decision to give to the shelter annually. "He is one of the most giving, humble people I've ever met."

The family has hosted the car show that benefits Anderson County PAWS for the last eight years at the Civic Center of Anderson. The event will have vendors, food and raffles along with a vehicle show.

Animals will also be available for adoption through PAWS and Ashley said they typically bring at least 10. The shelter currently has an abundance of animals, she said.

Louch's love of cars comes from his dad who has a satin black 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Darren Louch was tinkering away at trophies Monday afternoon using pieces of car parts to form dog heads or funny wrench-armed figures.

Braxton Louch was gifted his first car when he was 11, it was at the fundraising event that year. It is a bright yellow 1968 Dodge Charger, affectionately called "Daisy."

Cars and animals, what better way to celebrate his birthday next month than with the event that combines both.

"Every year's just gotten bigger," he said. "It'll be bigger this year than it was last year."

His classmates at Crescent High are joining in the effort by gathering food with a goal of 3,000 pounds, said Dylan McCullough, a spokesperson for Anderson School District Three.

"The impact it has had on the shelter has been amazing," Ashley said. "It's something the staff looks forward to every year, the whole community looks forward to it."

The event will take place 1-5 p.m. on May 22 at the Anderson Civic Center.