Give love on Christmas Day


Boonie Babies Rescue founders, sisters Aria Keilbach, center, and Grace Keilbach, right, are joined by volunteers and some of their Boonie Babies rescues. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

After two years of muted celebrations, Christmas this year is getting its mojo back as the “most wonderful time of the year,” as one carol describes this special time. With the pandemic behind us, a lot of us have gone back to full celebratory mode to drink a toast to going back to “normal,” we know it and are used to.

Yet our perspective of Christmas and the so-called “spirit” of the season has definitely changed. COVID-19 was like the Grinch who took away the life we thought we knew and replaced it with uncertainties. Before COVID-19 happened, Christmas was predominantly spent anticipating the numerous parties, get-togethers and the gift-giving and, most of all, the gift receiving. Now that we are almost out of the grip of this pandemic, the question that need to be answered is: “Is there more to the tinsel and glitter of Christmas?

So, just for the thrill of finding out if Google really holds the answer to life’s questions, I searched what the meaning of Christmas is and, to my surprise, one of the results describe the lesson of the season as a “great time to be thankful for the bigger things in life. The holidays are a great opportunity to give to those less fortunate and to talk to your kids about all the things they have that they are grateful for.”

This definition reminds me of The Gift of Magi, the O. Henry Christmas story that narrates how a young couple gave up their most valuable possessions to buy their first Christmas gift for each other. As the story shows, we don’t need to go to the extreme of spending and getting elaborate gifts to spread the joy of the season. Why not go back to the basics of investing more time on things that really matter—the people we hold dear, the friend in need, or the community that is always on the lookout for a volunteer or two to help them in their advocacies.

Saipan Cares for Animals partners Yumi Brundidge, left, and Beth Pliscou. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

After COVID-19 challenged all aspects of our lives, this Yuletide season might just be the right time to recalibrate and rethink what we value and deem important. Why wait for the New Year to make resolutions that make us feel good about ourselves? We can start now.

For this season, we have prepared this Christmas guide to offer ideas for gift giving, places to visit, and where you can bring the family and loved ones to celebrate your annual Christmas get-together. Most importantly, we are beginning what we hope will become a yearly tradition for Saipan Tribune. As what one of the most popular Christmas song encourages us to do (Give Love on Christmas Day), we have chosen eight non-profit organizations who will receive a portion of our ad sales from this special insert. Benefitting from this program are the following organizations:


The Autism Society of the CNMI exists to help increase awareness about this developmental disorder, which affects how a person perceives and socializes with others, and serves as a resource for parents who may be in the dark as to what autism spectrum disorder is.

Originally, the organization started as a support group for parents with loved ones who’ve been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. While the group now focuses more on raising awareness about autism, they still continue to provide resources and guidance, which are extremely important help for families dealing with the disorder.

The group relies on donations and hosts yearly fundraising events, with its keynote event being the ASCNMI Quiz Nite. This 501(c)(3) non-profit group welcomes volunteers who can provide new ideas and direction for the team. Contact. Romeo Cuellar at


Following the destruction of Saipan’s animal shelter from Typhoon Soudelor in October 2015 and the need to assist and shelter displaced animals, a group of volunteers, many of whom were already doing work at the mayor’s shelter, decided to band together to form this group. With help from Humane Society International, it visited Saipan to train some of the volunteers to become veterinary technicians, including Beth Pliscou, who later became SCA’s director.

SCA opened its Animal Care Clinic and Shelter in As Gonno in August 2016, and then relocated to its Gualo Rai home since April 2022. The shelter operates as a clinic and, with its “Virtual Shelter” program, allows community members to volunteer to shelter animals.

Since they are a non-profit organization, the biggest challenge the group faces on a daily basis is how to keep the clinic open to the community. The clinic operates on a shoestring budget, with revenue generated from fees going to animal care, supplies and services, with barely nothing left for operations. The fee schedule is intended to be affordable. No animal is denied care and services for inability to pay. However, pet parents can opt to “pay when able.” The SCA depends highly on community support, donations, and grants to supplement its services.

The SCA’s two-pronged mission is to reduce the stray animal overpopulation in the CNMI through spaying and neutering dogs and cats. SCA accomplishes this by adopting out animals that have been sterilized. In addition, SCA offers low-cost spay and neuter services to the community, which are provided by visiting volunteer veterinarians that SCA recruits.

Empowering people in the CMI to care for their pets is the group’s second goal and to meet this, they provide education about pet care and when they need to be taken to SCA.

Clinic doors are open to the community for services and welcome volunteers who work eight hours a day, seven days a week. They are always looking for volunteers. In fact, many high school students volunteer and afternoons at the clinic often looks like a busy youth center.


Established in 2004, this non-profit agency is dedicated toward ensuring the rights of people with disabilities to live fully integrated into the community with equal opportunities and choices in life. The agency started as a satellite office of the Hawaii Center for Independent Living. In 2005, it gained its autonomy and became what it is now following a successful audit. Since then, the CLI-CNMI acquired an IRS 501 (c)(3) status, run by and for persons with disabilities.

Not many in the community are aware of the existence of CLI-CNMI and the agency hopes to increase awareness about their services with the community’s help. Individuals with disabilities needing assistance is growing in number and one way to help is by becoming a volunteer. For more information about the agency and available volunteer work, visit them at 1365 and 1366 on Navy Hill or call 322-4303/4304 or send an email to to schedule an interview. A valid photo ID and a police clearance is required.


Providing access to quality veterinary services and animal-related resources and relocating animals out of the CNMI with the end goal of reducing the stray dog and cat population on the islands are the reasons behind this non-profit organization. More importantly, the group aims to foster respect for animal life by increasing awareness through education.

The group’s founders, sisters Aria and Grace Keilbach, wanted to address and ease what they saw was the suffering stray dogs and cats in the CNMI, so they began driving around the island feeding stray dogs and cats. Eventually, worldwide help came and volunteers from Canada, the U.S. mainland and Austria fly out regularly to Saipan to help meet the organization’s goals. To date. 300 animals have already been rescued and rehabilitated by the group.

Just recently, Boonie Babies Rescue was awarded a BOOST grant. However, most of their funding comes from private donations and by hosting fundraising events such as group walks, puppy yoga, beach cleanups, among others. These events also allow the group to share information about animal care and their mission to save boonies dogs.

The group is always on the lookout for volunteers. Volunteers help socialize the dogs in many fun ways as well as assist in the animal’s day-to-day care. To keep updated and involved in their work, follow the Boonie Babies Rescue on their social media pages on Instagram @booniebabies, on Facebook at Boonie Babies Rescue and on TikTok at stay_wavy_baby. Simply liking, sharing, and commenting on the posts goes a long way in helping the group increase awareness and educate the community about their advocacy.


This non-profit was organized to promote the continuous existence and effectiveness of the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library to the community. The group holds several fundraising events yearly, including book sales with proceeds used to fund different library activities.

Contributing Author

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