Pioneer 4th graders conduct holiday Caring for Critters Pet Food Drive

ARLINGTON – Thanks to a pup named Shiloh and the helping hands of fourth-graders at Pioneer Elementary School, dogs at a local adoption shelter will get a little extra love and attention to let them know they’re not forgotten during busy holiday times.

The students this year participated in a book study on the novel, Shiloh. Author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s book tells the tale of an 11-year-old boy who finds a beagle in the woods behind his family’s house, and hides the seemingly mistreated pup away from his abusive owner. The boy and dog wind up happily together in the end, but not before the boy faces many ethical questions along the path to protect the dog from further harm.

While Shiloh is a fictional story, the students knew all too well that there are animals in their own community that need help. They wondered what they could do to help animals in need closer to home.

That’s when they came up with the idea to conduct a holiday Caring for Critters Pet Food Drive as a community service project to help animals in the area, fourth-grade teacher D’Andrea Olsen said.

They chose to give their donations to The NOAH Center in Stanwood. NOAH takes in homeless dogs and cats, provides family friendly pet adoptions, hosts humane education and volunteer programs, and operates a spay and neuter center.

Olsen’s class and other fourth-grade classroomsran the pet food drive from Nov. 1-23, made posters promoting the food drive, and spread the word about what they hoped to achieve. In addition to pet food dropped off at the school, they also received dog beds, chew toys, stuffed animals and other items on a wish list provided by NOAH.

During the pet food drive, NOAH volunteers brought some of their rescue animals into the classrooms.

“It was so fun to see the students’ reactions, and see what surprise animals that NOAH volunteers would bring in next,” Olsen said.

By show of hands, about a third of the students have a family dog.

Olsen said the kids are excited knowing that their donations are going to a great cause during the holidays, and helping dogs that are still waiting for the day that they get adopted into a forever home.

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