Niceville High School student Sarah Silvani recently entered the Miss Niceville High School Pageant. Contestants raised money for a charity of their choice. On the day of the event, each contestant put out a donation jar to collect funds for their charity. The audience got to choose their favorite contestant and put money in that contestant’s jar. The contestant with the most money in their jar received the money from all of the contestants’ jars to donate to their charity.

At the end of the day, Sarah had the most, which meant Alaqua would benefit from her talents. Sarah came to the refuge March 19 with her father to present the check to Laurie Hood, founder of Alaqua.

“I chose Alaqua because it’s a no-kill shelter and that is very important to me. I have three dogs of my own and they are all rescue dogs,” said the 18-year-old.

Sarah lives in Mossy Head with her family on six acres. She expressed her love for animals and said she was ready for dog number four. The Alaqua staff assured her they could find the perfect match for her.

When Laurie Hood asked Sarah how she would like to donate the funds, Sarah said, “Well, I know about the matching grant and want to donate to the new project because I know the money will be doubled.”

That turned the $1,700 into $3,400, which is fantastic for the refuge and will go toward Project ARC — the building of the new refuge property. Before leaving, Sarah filled out a volunteer application and committed to becoming a volunteer at the refuge. Laurie and staff look forward to working with this bright young lady with a heart of gold.