Instead of a gift exchange, first-graders in Amy Swihart’s classroom at Madison Elementary School donate to the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County each year.
“We call it ‘Enriching the Lives of Our Furry Friends,’” said Swihart last night at the third annual event. “All kids love animals, so they want to help.”
“I love it because it’s teaching philanthropy to the children. A lot of kids don’t have that in their life. It makes you feel good,” said Darla McCammon, AWL executive director.
Giving to the shelter doesn’t cost much, Swihart said. A person can donate something as simple as their stack of newspapers.
“Dog food is very helpful right now because of the prices,” McCammon suggested.
At the start of each school year, Swihart tells parents to start saving their newspapers. Three weeks before the event, she sends out an email reminding parents of the event. The parents and children then deliver the items to the AWL, with the first-graders taking some time to pet and play with the animals. After the donation was made yesterday, the students and their parents went to McDonald’s for the class’s monthly play night.
“For the age of her kids, she’s a great teacher,” McCammon said.
Swihart said she has a great bunch of parents. She also challenged the other schools in the community to collect for the animal shelter. If just all the Warsaw schools did something in December, she said the shelter would have a lot more of the stuff it needs for the cats and dogs it houses.
The shelter is always in need of the following items: clay cat litter, pet food, paper towels, liquid laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, bleach, almost all office supplies and printer inks (call for types), soft towels, disinfecting wipes, Neutra-air freshener refill cans, Frontline for fleas, dish soap, toilet tissue, hand soap, Kleenex and Staples rewards coupons. These items can be brought to the shelter during open hours.
The animal shelter is at 3489 E. CR 100S, Pierceton. For more information, call 574-267-3008; visit its website at awlwarsaw.com; or find it on Facebook at AWLeague.
McCammon said the shelter has a capital campaign going on now to raise money for a new shelter. Contributions are greatly appreciated, she said.
Animal Welfare League Executive Director Darla McCammon (R) accepts the donations from Madison Elementary School first-grade teacher Amy Swihart (C) and her students Thursday afternoon. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union