2018-05-10 / Living

Bendle Middle School students use $1,000 grant to help Humane Society

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

Students in an afterschool program at Bendle Middle School recently donated $1,000 worth of items to the Humane Society of Genesee County. 
Photo by Tanya Terry Students in an afterschool program at Bendle Middle School recently donated $1,000 worth of items to the Humane Society of Genesee County. Photo by Tanya Terry BURTON — A group called the Miracle Makers who regularly volunteer recently helped use a $1,000 grant to buy items needed for shelter animals.

“Service creates a better community,” said Diane Woodruff, volunteer coordinator for the United Way of Genesee County.

“By engaging youth in it, it can help create a lifelong volunteer, and it helps youth see they can make a difference,” Woodruff added. “This is especially important for students in the Bendle district, some of which are used to being on the receiving end.”

Lori Hackett, team leader for afterschool programs at Bendle Middle School, appointed the group’s members and asked for ideas on how they could lend a hand. After deciding what they wanted to do, students called the local Humane Society to discover what was needed. The students applied for a grant through the United Way of Genesee County in order to purchase the items.

“Students came up with a mission statement, the name of their group and what they wanted the money for,” Hackett said.

When the students came back from spring break Hackett told them she’d received an email saying they were awarded a $1,000 grant, which students said excited them. The students then got on school computers to research prices of the needed items and went to Pet Smart to get the items. They purchased cat food, dog food, pet toys, kitty litter, puppy and kitten formula and treats. Pet Smart offered the group a discount, as well as Petco, from which Hackett bought some additional items.

The Bridge Afterschool Program meets Monday-Thursday year-round at least 32 weeks during the school year and six weeks during the summer.

“They utilized leadership skills in deciding what project they wanted to do and community service by giving back to the community,” said Aimee Phillips, coordinator for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) afterschool and summer program, which has 15 sites across Genesee County.

The students were already reading with animals for the Furry Tales Reading Program at the Humane Society of Genesee County, which Woodruff said positively affected the United Way’s decision to award them the grant.

“Furry Tales helps with students’ reading skills and helps calm the animals,” Hackett said. “The Humane Society also brought puppies to our site to help kids with emotion and compassion.”

The United Way of Genesee County had $15,000 thanks to a grant from C.S. Mott, in partnership with Youth Service America, a national organization specializing in engaging youth in volunteerism. Groups that work with youth could apply for the funding up to $1,500. There were 20 grant submissions and 11 grants awarded.

Kevin Hamden, 11, who is in sixth grade said his dog that passed away used to put his nose under Hamden’s arm and cheer Hamden up when he was down.

Alex Johnson,12, who is in seventh grade, said he was nervous about being in the newspaper but said it felt great to make the donation to the Humane Society and he “just loves” animals.

Woodruff said United Way staff tell participants in the organization’s service-in-a-box involving making dog toys, “if a shelter animal is happy, it has a better chance of being adopted.”

Mari Brooks, humane educator and community event coordinator for the Humane Society of Genesee County, said the shelter normally adopts out 2,000 homeless animals yearly.

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