Helping out one animal at a time
The children squeal with delight as puppies frolic around their feet.
"The puppies are really cute and fun to play with," says Hannah C., a fourth grader at Daniel Island School in Charleston, South Carolina.
Hannah and her mom are new volunteers at Pet Helpers, a nonprofit, no-kill shelter in Charleston devoted to helping cats and dogs of all shapes and sizes. The shelter is also known for helping the occasional ferret or rabbit, too!
What makes Pet Helpers special is that it encourages people of all ages to volunteer. Kids like Hannah, who are under the age of 17, can work at the shelter with an adult assistant.
Volunteers are required to complete a training session where they learn the ins and outs of being a Pet Helpers' volunteer. These sessions are run by Pet Helpers Volunteer Coordinator Elizabeth Spillars.
In addition, Pet Helpers also partners with students from the nearby Porter Gaud School. Spillars said she appreciates the enthusiasm and helping hands that Porter Gaud students bring to Pet Helpers.
"Pet Helpers is a great place to volunteer if you are an animal lover because you form a relationship with the animals," Spillars told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. She added that youth volunteers at Pet Helpers gain respect for what the animals in the shelter have been through, while also having fun.
The Porter Gaud students volunteer at Pet Helpers once a month through a program that science teacher and service coordinator Gretchen Tate set up. Tate has known the founder of Pet Helpers, Carol Linville, for 12 years and thought that pairing kids and pets at the shelter would be a great idea.
"I think that animals are somewhat helpless creatures," Tate says. "We need to be their caretakers and take good care of them."
Ben Worshon, and Stacy Fairey, seniors at Porter Gaud, are the student leaders for the Pet Helpers program at the school. Stacy started as a volunteer with the Pet Helpers program. She has been a student leader for the last two years.
"I had been going to the shelter for years and I thought it would be cool to bring more volunteers," Stacy told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.
On their monthly visits, student volunteers clean cages, play with the animals for socialization, and take dogs on walks.
Porter Gaud students have also raised money and awareness about the many animals in need of adoption through food and toy drives. They also lend a hand with the annual Fur Ball. The Fur Ball is a silent and live auction gala, which raised close to $140,000 this year alone.
KIDS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Scholastic's newest team of Kid Reporters take a look at what young people around the country are doing to help out the less fortunate this holiday season in the Kids Make a Difference Special Report.
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