BETHLEHEM Abby Serfilippi’s passion for helping animals began in the fourth grade.
The 16-year-old Delmar resident said her life changed after she was asked to do a service project while still a student at St. Thomas the Apostle School. Students were asked to do volunteer work in area animal shelters, but she soon realized she wanted to do more.
“I didn’t really know about animals being abused and abandoned, or in shelters, until I did that service project,” she said.
Serfilippi started small. Having a guinea pig of her own, she began by helping to find homes for guinea pigs that had been brought to local shelters.
“She became quite persistent in her goal of providing a home for these animals, and we adopted many homeless guinea pigs,” said Abby’s mother, Mary Jane Serfilippi. The family has adopted 22 guinea pigs over the years and currently owns eight of the small creatures.
But Serfilippi still wanted to do more. She was soon given permission to sell homemade crafts at her school’s crafts fair, with all of the proceeds going to local animal shelters and sanctuaries. That’s how her small local business, the Dust Bunnies Boutique, was formed.
Serfilippi’s creations are now sold at Perfect Blend Cafe and Loving Cafe in Delmar, and Lil’ Buddha Tea in Albany, among other places. She also sets up tables at various craft fairs throughout the region and the Delmar Farmer’s Market. The business is a family affair, with Serfilippi’s mother and sister both helping make the crafts.
“My family has really helped me and they’ve always been really supportive,” said Serfilippi, adding how she believes the experience has helped them bond.
Many will be familiar with Serfilippi’s Button Buddies, small felt animals that are decorated and glued to buttons. But the family also makes Buddies in a Basket. These creations are similar, but slightly larger and placed in small baskets. Serfilippi said they are popular around Easter, while the family’s homemade Christmas ornaments are also a best seller for those seeking holiday gifts.