Flamingos for Faith — A fundraiser for a local autistic girl has pink flamingos popping in yards around town

Barbara Smith is surrounded by a flock of flamingos in her Central Kitsap yard, a display symbolic of community support.  - Kristin Okinaka/staff photo
Barbara Smith is surrounded by a flock of flamingos in her Central Kitsap yard, a display symbolic of community support.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka/staff photo

Barbara Smith woke up last week to find 91 plastic pink flamingos in her front yard. At first she had no idea where they came from.

“The one thing I hate is yard art, especially pink flamingos,” she said at her Lakehurst Drive home.

Only later did she discover that the flamingos that were congregated were more than someone’s sick joke. The flock of plastic birds are in her yard to raise money for a local girl with autism and mild cerebral palsy.

Bella Bella Cupcakes, a local Silverdale company, created a fundraiser to raise money to train a service dog for 8-year-old Faith Creighton, of Central Kitsap.

Donors purchase flamingos that then “flock” up at the intended victim’s yard. Employees from Bella Bella Cupcakes, or Faith’s father Jim Creighton, go to the targeted person’s house in the evening to arrange the flamingos. People are typically surprised the next morning by the flock in their yard.

The next day, they come back to remove the flamingos. In Smith’s case, after reading an accompanying tag that described the fundraiser, she still didn’t know who instigated the “attack.”

For a $5 donation, Smith discovered that it was her coworkers — she works as a bus driver for the Central Kitsap School District — that organized to flock her.

Maybe now she can make an exception for her dislike of yard flamingos.

“I just thought it was such a fun thing. It seems so clever for such a good cause,” Smith said.

Because of Faith’s conditions that leave her at about a 50 percent cognitive level for her age, she is dependent on her parents Jim and Allison Creighton. Faith cannot read, use the restroom or dress herself.

One of the difficulties of everyday life is adapting to change — even taking a slightly different route on a routine drive can leave her in tears — and her parents hope having a service dog with her will help her with transitions.

“As she gets older, she will have the freedom to go out on her own — with the constant of the dog,” Jim Creighton said.

Jim Creighton works at the Intermediate Maintenance Facility at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor training members of quality assurance and providing logistics support to the department.

The family lives on base and has been in Central Kitsap for four years. Faith attends Esquire Hills Elementary School in a self-contained classroom where she will be entering third grade and will be in a classroom of third through fifth graders with special needs.

Being a Navy wife, Allison Creighton said she has learned to do things on her own and that the family is thankful for the support from the community for her daughter.

“The response has been overwhelming. I have a hard time asking for money,” Allison Creighton said.

Last Wednesday the family adopted a chocolate labrador from the Kitsap Humane Society that they plan to get trained to eventually be a full service dog. First the 2-year-old lab, “Daisy,” will need basic obedience training and then training in Seattle to become a service animal, which will take about a year and cost about $5,000, Jim Creighton said.

Sharon Legrand, with the humane society, contacted the Creightons about the lab because she thought the dog would fit their household.

“She was calm and I thought it would be a perfect match for their daughter,” Legrand said. “Labs are a really good breed. They are kid-friendly and really positive.”

It is not uncommon for people to come to the humane society looking for an animal to train into a service animal, Legrand said, adding that currently the humane society has about 70 dogs that can be adopted.

There is no set end date for the flamingo flocking fundraiser though Jim Creighton said he expects the family will be at their goal by the end of September. He hopes that Bella Bella Cupcakes will continue the fundraiser for someone else in the community in need of help.

Donna Wharton, owner of the Silverdale cupcake shop, said the idea to flock flamingos came from her former business partner, Amie Lacher. Lacher knew it’s a popular concept in the east coast and thought it would make for a fun way to raise money here.

Wharton said the community has responded positively to the fundraiser. They have had requests for “flockings” on Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard and Kingston in addition to Central Kitsap and Bremerton. She compared the act of setting up the flamingos similar to when teenagers toilet paper houses, since they try to do it without getting caught.

And for now, Faith has a new friend in Daisy — who will hopefully be able to provide her with more once fully trained.

“I like her a lot,” Faith said. “She comes gives me ‘kissies.’”


Funds for Faith,

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