Students give presents to pets, learn about serving community (Video)
Dec. 9, 2011 at 6:09 a.m.
Right after his school bus pulled to a stop, Randal Rudd dashed down its steps so he could help his teacher carry a basket of gifts.
The Academics for Life class from East High School was delivering toys, treats and cleaning supplies to the Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center as part of its Presents for Pets fundraiser.
"God gave us dogs," Daniel Briones, 17, explained. "I like to help the dogs. It was a good idea."
The class is designed to provide real-world skills to students with special needs. The project was perfect to introduce students to ways they can serve the community, teacher Maria Morales said.
Besides shopping for the gifts themselves, the class saved money they made from selling cookies, which Daniel helps bake every morning.
After dropping off the presents, the students toured the center to get a glimpse of the animals their supplies will help.
The dog-lovers encouraged the more wary of their classmates along the tour, reassuring them the animals wouldn't bite.
Daniel bounced from cage to cage to pet the animals but was especially drawn to one named Patch, a fox terrier mix.
"I like him because he's playful," he said.
Whereas most dogs raced to the edge of their gates to jump up and meet their visitors, another student, Danielle Flores, had one puppy calm and curled in a corner.
Danielle, 17, is pretty much a professional at the adoption center after volunteering there last year.
"I just love the animals and giving them toys if they don't have any," she said.
Last year's Presents for Pets event gathered so many presents, the staff had to push the gifts aside to clear a path through the front room, animal services volunteer Amanda LeBlanc said.
This year is shaping up to be even more successful, she said.
Several area schools are participating by donating items such as cat litter, dog bones and bleach to help keep the animals well cared for until they find a home.
To show their appreciation for the gifts, the dogs will embark on a Christmas parade through participating schools closer to the holiday.