By Linda Cole
The old saying, “Every little bit helps” is true when it comes to helping pets in shelters. Teaching kids about giving and sharing are lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime. If you have a child who wants to do something to help their local animal shelter, there are small things they can do that will make a big difference in the life of shelter pets, and help the shelter, too.
Working with the animals. Most shelters have a minimum age requirement for working around pets. Many cannot allow children under age 16 to volunteer, because of their insurance. However, some shelters will let children help with feeding and socializing if they are with a parent or guardian who volunteers at the shelter. Ask your shelter what their age restrictions are. If your child is too young to work with animals, they can still help in other areas. Volunteers are always needed to stuff envelopes, unload supplies or help with other chores around the shelter.
Make toys, beds and blankets. Simple homemade dog and cat toys are always welcome. Kids can talk with local vets to see if they would be willing to display the homemade items and sell them. Mom and Pop stores are good places to contact, too. The money from the sales could then be donated to a shelter. Pet beds can be easily made out of foam or bed pillows with a homemade cover. Pet blankets are quick and easy to make. Homemade toys, beds and blankets are simple things kids can do to help out their local shelter.
Bake sales are fun for kids and can bring in much needed cash for shelters. Bake sales can be done with the help of a parent, church group, school or any other organization your child is involved with. Help your child make up posters to advertise with the shelter’s name included so people know who the bake sale will benefit. Homemade toys, pet beds and blankets can be included with the baked goods to encourage more sales. If you have a farmer’s market or flea market in your area, both are good places to sell the homemade products.
Organize a drive for pet food or needed supplies. Children can help in small ways by visiting their local shelter to find out what kind of supplies are needed, and then organizing a pet drive to collect the items. Most shelters need pet safe cleaners, laundry detergent, paper towels, soft towels, cat litter, collars, leashes and pet food. Set up boxes at local grocery and retail stores for donations.
Hand out fliers on pet related issues. Print up fliers with important pet related issues that are important to your child. Make up fliers on the health benefits of spaying/neutering pets. Pass along information on shelter pets waiting for homes. Hand out pertinent information about local shelters.
If your city has organized charity walks for pets, that’s a great way for children to do something to benefit their local shelter. Charity walks help kids learn the value of exercise for them and their dog. Depending on how many sponsors they can find, it’s a good lesson for them to learn that one person can make a difference and have fun with their pet at the same time.
Organizing and running their own pet club is a good way for kids to help a local shelter. Set up weekly or monthly meetings where animal loving youngsters can talk about pet related issues and find creative ideas to help educate others on the needs of pets in shelters. With the help of a parent, they can plan field trips to shelters and work on creative ways to collect donations, toys, food or supplies.
Sponsor a shelter pet. The entire family can join in, kids can start their own club to sponsor one or more pets, or they can talk with local businesses and ask them if they would be willing to help a shelter pet by setting up a collection can for money donations. Sponsoring is an excellent class project that can involve everyone.
Donating birthday gifts or allowances. Some kids are happy to forego their birthday gifts and ask kids attending their birthday party to bring presents for pets instead. CANIDAE treats would make a great gift for shelter pets. You can talk to your child and encourage them to set aside a portion of their allowance to donate to a shelter. There’s no better feeling than giving and for an animal loving kid, a small donation of their own money is a heartfelt way they can help shelter pets.
Photo by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue