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Redmond teen Alexander Tsao has donated around $4,000 dollars to Hopelink over the past two months, through the sales of his handcrafted pet leashes. (Photo: Alexander Tsao)
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Redmond student donates proceeds from pet leash business to COVID-19 relief

Alexander Tsao was already making a difference through his nonprofit Rocks2Dogs before the pandemic, donating proceeds from the sales of his handcrafted pet leashes to local animal shelters.

But since the current health crisis started, the local teen has turned his attention to helping people in need. Over the past two months, he's donated around $4,000 dollars to Hopelink.

Seattle Refined: You have been making dog and cat leashes and then taking the proceeds you make from selling them and donating them to Hopelink - tell me about that?
Alexander Tsao: So about a year ago, I started my nonprofit Rocks2Dogs. I make handmade dog leashes from used climbing ropes, and I donate 100% of the profit to no kill animal shelters and animal shelters. However, due to COVID 19, I decided to donate all the sales from the next few months to Hopelink.

I gotta ask you - how old are you and what are you in school?
I recently turned 17 and I’m a junior at Redmond High School.

So how did you get started with this?
I’ve been rock climbing for about five years now, and I noticed that the ropes at my gym kept being changed regularly and I wondered why. I found out that climbing gyms often have to discard the ropes every few months for safety regulations. I thought this was a huge waste and harmful to the environment. So I decided to turn it into dog leashes.

How many leashes do you think you’ve made so far?
I’ve made a hundred leashes so far.

What’s the process like?
So first I collect ropes from climbing gyms, and then we have to wash them and let them dry outside, and I cut them into the appropriate sizes. I burn the ends to make sure they don’t fray. I used metal clamps to hold together the sides of the leash, and then shrink wrap to hold everything together.

Recently you’ve switched over from donating to animal shelters to donating to Redmond Hopelink - can you explain why?
Because of COVID 19, unemployment has skyrocketed, so Hopelink is really essential to help the community right now. I’ve been volunteering at Hopelink for over six years now. Not only is it a food bank, they provide housing assistance, financial assistance education and much more.

For people that aren’t familiar what is going on with Hopelink, right now are they preferring to have monetary donations instead of food donations?
Yes, definitely this is for the safety of the staff volunteers and clients at the food bank they are not really taking any physical food donations anymore. That's why financial donations are crucial to help them purchase food.

How does it make you feel knowing you are helping so many people?
It makes me feel really good that I’m still able to help Hopelink - even though I’m not able to technically be there, and I think it’s really important in a time like this that everyones doing their part and helping others.

You can check out Alexander's leashes at Rocks2Dogs online.

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