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St. Patrick's School seventh-graders, left to right, Jackie Andrews, Kayli Keenan and Daniel Condon pose with Patricia Mack, SARL development director, and Rico the dog on Friday morning. The children raised $550 to assist the local shelter as part of their yearlong service project. (COURTESY)

Pet project

Pelham kids step up to assist animal shelter

PELHAM - With a class full of pet lovers, it's no surprise seventh-graders at St. Patrick School chose the Salem Animal Rescue League (SARL) for their yearlong charity project.

On Friday, SARL development manager Patricia Mack stopped by the school with a four-legged friend to thank the children for their efforts.

Teacher Lynne Stader, a 26-year veteran of the school, said the fundraising project began at the start of the school year, when students were encouraged to research area charities, give persuasive speeches and take a final vote on which cause was deemed most worthy of their efforts.

"Each year I encourage my homeroom to work on community projects because leadership training is essential," Stader said. "We need to include these projects on a regular basis so students can live out their mission and be proud of what they can accomplish."

The students' most recent fundraiser, a monthlong "Show the Love" event held at the school throughout February, yielded $550 for the local animal shelter.

By selling raffle tickets, donating change from their lunch purchases and collecting coins around their homes, some of the kids even convinced their parents and grandparents to match their donations to SARL, Stader said.

Clutching onto Rico, a Chihuahua mix that is available for adoption at the Salem shelter, Mack recognized a few familiar faces in the crowd.

One of them was Zachary DeBay, a seventh-grader whose family adopted Mojo the cat from SARL last year.

"I was surprised she remembered me," said Zachary. "She even remembered what color my cat was. I'm really glad our class did this project."

Classmate Jackie Andrews said: "It would have been great to give even $50. But knowing we did so good and could give this much really made me proud of my class."

With puppy and kitten season just around the corner, Mack said the donations would certainly be put to good use purchasing much-needed pet supplies for current and future SARL residents.

And the students' good works didn't end with last week's donation to the animal shelter.

The seventh-graders are currently working on an additional project collecting retired American flags. So far, the classmates have collected 60 worn flags and a retirement ceremony will take place at the school in late May.

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