Waterford – Ten high school students knocked over boxes and bags of pet care products from a school bus Thursday morning, placing them in the lobby of the Connecticut Humane Society in Quaker Hill.
The students were there to help hand in the donations collected by their classmate Julia Cameron and receive a tour of the entire animal welfare organization.
Cameron, a junior at Waterford High School, collected nearly 1,200 items to donate equitably between the Connecticut Humane Society and the Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Shelter as part of her Required Capstone Project.
She said she chose to do this project because she really loves animals. Years ago, on her 10th birthday, she said that instead of gifts, she asked her friends to donate to the local animal shelter.
Cameron’s teacher Brett Arnold said the Capstone Project is part of a new interactive curriculum and class for the school’s juniors and seniors. Nationally recognized digital learning organization, Skills21, worked with the school district to design the program that meets state-level master’s-based graduation requirements.
âIt’s a student-driven project,â said Arnold. “They can use their interests and apply them to the needs of the society.”
He said other students in the class had taken initiatives such as building a bench and participating in the school’s Explorers program for disabled students on a daily basis, making arts and crafts. .
Arnold was impressed with how quickly and profusely Cameron collected donations herself. âI couldn’t believe it,â he said.
Cameron began formulating goals for his project in September and began collecting donations on November 1.
With her permission, she placed flyers and donation boxes at High School, Oswegatchie Elementary School, and Clark Lane Middle School. She also ran social media campaigns and wrote letters to local pet stores. She said she had received donations from Petsmart and Pet Supplies “Plus”.
Cameron said it was a challenge, but a little over a month after starting she realized she had well over 1,000 items.
Donations included dog and cat food, toys, collars, leashes and treats. There were even items for small animals, such as birds and rabbits, which Cameron says are often overlooked in donations.
Ashley Marshall, community outreach manager for the Connecticut Humane Society facilities in Waterford, guided the students on a site tour. She said Cameron’s donations would go to different sources.
Donated food items are placed in the centre’s pantry for people and animals like part of their community aid program. Marshall said excess items would be sent to local partners and items such as litter boxes and toys would be used by animals at the shelter.
Marshall said she often receives emails from students like Cameron and that the organization is always willing to help with their efforts and offer them a tour of the shelter afterward.
âIt’s nice to see young people getting involved to help animals in need,â said Marshall.
âShe spent hours on the project, decorating, collecting, going from store to store,â said Cameron’s mother, Jody Smith. “She was definitely passionate about this project and was very independent.”
Smith said she was very impressed and proud of her daughter’s work.
âIt didn’t benefit me at all,â Cameron said. “I just wanted to do something for animals because I have always loved them.”