|By Chris Maza|
WILBRAHAM – With the holidays approaching and a strong focus being on those in need this season, the Canine Club at Minnechaug Regional High School wants to make sure we remember the four-legged needy as well.
Throughout the month of December, members of the club have been hosting a Christmas for Canines drive, collecting items to be donated to local animal shelters.
“We’re a club made up of people who all have dogs and those dogs are all in good situations and we wanted to do something nice for the community,” Minnechaug student Lindsay Cloutier explained. “We knew how a lot of dogs don’t have homes for the holidays and we wanted to make sure we could make it as pleasant as we could for them.”
The club began its efforts on Dec. 4 and will continue to collect pet items including food, blankets and toys through Dec. 16 to be donated to the Thomas J. O’Connor Foundation.
“We’re collecting any new or gently used items that would make the dogs’ lives a little more comfortable or a little more exciting,” Cloutier said.
Cloutier admitted the club had to get creative in how it marketed the idea to the school community, especially given how many worthy causes there are, especially during the holiday season.
“A lot of [collections and fundraisers] are about kids who don’t have homes or kids who don’t have items and that’s very important, of course, but no one really thinks about the pets,“ she said.
With that in mind, the club came up with a unique incentive for the class that collects and donates the most items.
“You get to get out of class the day before school gets out and hang out with some of our dogs,” she said. “Instead of getting a pizza party or something like that, we give them actual time with dogs.”
Interest in the collection has been strong thus far, Cloutier said.
“We usually get a pretty good turnout and the teachers have been really great about asking their students to donate items,” she said. “We usually end up with a packed box from each class.”
Cloutier added that she anticipated one group in particular continuing the high level of support it has shown in the past when these collections have been conducted.
“We always get a lot a great stuff from the kids from the [Pioneer Valley Educational] Collaborative,”?she said. “The kids with special needs are always really, really excited about helping the dogs.”
Those outside of the school community who wish to donate may do so by sending their items in with a student, or by contacting Margaret Reidy, the Minnechaug Fine Arts Department chair and advisor to the Canine Club.
“She has a huge donation box in the band room and she’s always happy to take anything people are willing to give her,” Cloutier said.
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