Of all of the people whom each of us knows in the circle and scope of our lives, is there one person among them who is driven...who is passionate about the care of others...who is a one-person force of nature...whose heart and compassion and fearless determination to save even the most smallest, sickest, pathetically-abandoned creature - regardless of personal cost?

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Of all of the people whom each of us knows in the circle and scope of our lives, is there one person among them who is driven...who is passionate about the care of others...who is a one-person force of nature...whose heart and compassion and fearless determination to save even the most smallest, sickest, pathetically-abandoned creature - regardless of personal cost?
I know one such person - Missy Smith of Westernport, Maryland. And many others know her and of her, as well.
She is the perfect example of selflessness. She is one of many in this area who rescues four-legged animals - and in her case - cats, in particular. Missy has a dedicated group of friends and Facebook followers who support her efforts in saving, vetting, and re-homing these felines.
"This work is my passion, my life," says Missy. "I get calls and messages just about daily about abandoned and forgotten kittens and cats...calls at all times of the day...calls from people who can no longer take care of their cats... calls from people who know of colonies of feral cats...Facebook messages from friends who find cats who have been dropped off for others to find. Cats and kittens that are unloved, neglected, hurt, sick, and even dying from a life of loneliness and abuse."
Here is one cat - named Tigger - and here is his story as shared by Missy:
"Tigger came to me when his owner was having trouble taking care of him due to some unfortunate circumstances. Tigger got bitten by a cat who had an abscess in his mouth, and the bite became infected. When he came to me, the wound was from Tigger's neck to his tail, covering his entire back. After OVER A YEAR of different methods, we got it down to the size of a quarter. But, it just wouldn't close the rest of the way, and it was getting bigger again. We tried to stitch it, but the skin just pulled apart and it came back open. The veterinarian just couldn't understand why that last part wouldn't heal.
“So the vet did a culture and it was discovered that Tigger had MRSA. So...he was quarantined and given antibiotics. The good news is he NO LONGER has MRSA (yayyy and thank God), so we are hoping now his current antibiotic will finish closing the wound. However, last week at the bandage change it looked basically the same -  maybe a tiny bit smaller. We are out of options here locally.
“I took him to Life Center - an animal dermatologist and surgical specialist in Winchester, Virginia, for further treatment. It was determined that Tigger needs surgery. A treatment plan was set up - which includes exploratory surgery on the wound to find the underlying cause and why it is not healing. He needs testing, stays, wound debridement, blood work, cultures, e and a VAC procedure, and then the wound can be surgically closed. This needs to happen ASAP.
“The cost of all this is approximately $6,000-$7,000. This is critical, as his wound cannot get infected again. Tigger needs this. Enough is enough. He has been amazing through all of this. Such a good boy. He's been through so much - through all the meds and bandage changes every few days, etc., and those darn cones he has to wear!
“I will not give up on him. No way!!! He deserves a good life. And I'm going to make sure he gets one!!!! He's only a few years old. I will do whatever it takes to get him through this. He is otherwise very healthy. Eats great. Purrs a lot. Loves to be petted. He is just my boy and I won't let him down. Please HELP. 
“Please keep Tigger in your prayers, and I'll keep you posted on his progress. I just love this big guy so much."
Donations can be mailed to Missy Smith and designated for Tigger and Friends, 125 Church Street, Westernport, MD 21562.
Or, donations may be called in to the Life Center at 540-450-0177 under “Missy Smith for Tigger.”
I am excited to announce that there is a very generous donor who will match all donations to Tigger’s treatments up to $1,000!
Furthermore, to help Missy with her mission to save and improve the life of this precious 3-year-old cat, there is a committee in place that has organized a fundraiser called "Spaghetti Dinner For The Love of Tigger and Friends" - scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 10, from noon to 4 p.m. You can read all about it on Facebook. Tigger's surgery and treatment will cost in the neighborhood of $6,000. Yes - $6,000.
The dinner will be held at Moose Lodge 662, 570 S. Mineral St., Keyser, and will feature a delicious spaghetti dinner (eat in or take out), raffles where you buy an arm-length or body-length of tickets, and drop your tickets into the bags where you want to take chances to win some terrific prices and baskets that have been donated by Tigger's friends.
As of the date of this column, there will be a $50 Target gift card, a Steelers Game Day basket, a movie basket, a 50/50 raffle, a bake sale featuring home baked goodies, and many other activities happening at the dinner. Keep up with the event on Facebook!!
Everyone is encouraged to come out and show some love for Tigger. But, why all of this effort for one little tabby cat? Because he is worth it. His life matters.
More from Missy:
"The following is one of my favorite stories (author unknown) that never fails to inspire me in sustaining my belief in what I do as a Christ-follower, regardless of how insignificant it may seem to the eyes of others.
“One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked, he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
“Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. “Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, ‘I’m saving these starfish, Sir.’
“The old man chuckled aloud, ‘Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?’
“The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said,
“’I made a difference to that one!'"
And that is what life is all about. Making a difference. Making an impact.
Oh, I know it's the Christmas holiday season, and we are all busy and even stressed about the coming weeks as we prepare for the big day. And, maybe we don't have much extra money to donate to help Tigger. But you know what? If everyone who has a pet in their home would give a $5 donation toward Tigger's surgery and treatment, come Dec. 11 - Tigger could be heading to Winchester on the way to becoming all he can be - loved and warm and cozy in a home filled with thoughtfulness and kindness and gentleness, with never a worry where his next meal will be coming from - safe in the home of Missy Smith - who cares for the one as well as the many.
"I often get asked why so much effort and money into saving just one cat? “My answer.  Why not??
“Because his life matters. That's why!!
“I do not give up on a on a life just because it's going to be a long, tough road, or that it's going to be expensive. I fight right beside every single one until their last breath...no matter what. If there's a chance, I'm taking it. My heart will not let me do it any other way.  What kind of person would I be to discard or end a life when God puts these babies in my path?? They came to me for a reason. And that reason is because my Maker knows I will do all I can to save their lives. Some may think it's crazy...or call me crazy.  And hey, maybe I am. But this crazy girl has saved the lives of many animals.  One animal at a time.  So if that's crazy, I'll take it. Their lives matter, and I'm going to make sure they know it before they leave this world. Thank you all who support me," says Missy.

"Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” (Matt. 10:29 nlt).