As many of you may already know, the majority of our staff and students are animal lovers! It is actually one of the things that I took into account when deciding to attend OVCT because I am also somewhat of an animal lover myself. Those of us who understand the bond that is developed between a rescued animal and its owner can understand why we are so excited about the “Pack a Classroom for Pets” drive that is being held at OVCT. Our purpose was to raise as many donation items as we could for The Columbiana County Dog Pound and Adoption Center and The Columbiana County Humane Society. Each year, the homeless pet population grows exponentially, leaving local shelters scrambling for necessary items. Financial donations, grants and fundraisers are their primary income, leaving them dependent on local drives like ours to help fill the gaps for needed supplies.
The other reason for our drive was to raise awareness of their programs. For so many years, local shelters and rescues have been mislabeled as “kill shelters” or been painted as groups who do more harm than good. There are some out there, but these two shelters and their volunteers work tirelessly, 24/7 to provide quality lives for the animals that no one wanted. They put aside their own lives and needs in order to care for those who weren’t cared for. This was just as much as an educational drive as it was anything else.
When Donna Juszczak first asked me to get involved, I had no idea what to expect, but it was not what happened! Our students, staff and local businesses stepped up and without any hesitation. Initially, we were only hosting a bake sale and asking for items to be donated. Simple, right? Well, that quickly turned into a bake sale each Monday, a soup sale each Tuesday for the month of February. And again for the month of March, which also included a “Dogs for Dawgs” day, complete with Coney sauce made by our very own Donna and hot dogs by Mr. Ream. Once the word was out, items started pouring in and they haven’t stopped yet. We have received everything from toys and blankets to office and cleaning supplies. Lonnie Laughlin, a Student Ambassador, was instrumental in obtaining a donation from the Calcutta Tractor Supply Store of over 1,000 pounds of dog and cat food. Our weekly bake/soup sales have risen over 250.00 and we still have a few weeks left before our grand finale, a Chili Cook Off.
All of this has happened because of a dedicated staff, a student body that cares and a Student Government that stands behind those in need. None of this could have happened without any of them, or the dozen of students who worked each week to make sure it went together as planned. Once the word was out through an article in the local newspapers, and Facebook, our drop off soared to the point that the front desk was flooded in items!
There are still items that are needed, such as blankets, towels, farm animal supplies and food. If you are interested in donating, or assisting with the drive, please feel free to contact me.
Kelly Miller McDade