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Lessons in giving help furry friends

Lake Superior Elementary School students ring the 19 holiday kindness boxes they filled with food, hygiene items and gift cards last week. The boxes were distributed to families in the community. In another giving effort at the school, students raised $621 for the Humane Society of Douglas County through the sale of handmade ornaments. (Maria Lockwood)

Youthful giving is going to the dogs this year. Students at two elementary schools plan to make the holidays merry and bright for animals at the Humane Society of Douglas County.

“I just think it’s the sweetest thing,” said RaeAnn Anderson, a humane society employee. “If kids at that age can learn to be generous like that, they’re going to be wonderful adults.”

Student council members from Lake Superior Elementary School went on a shopping spree at Menards Tuesday, collecting food, toys and supplies for the shelter’s furry occupants. The trip was funded by $621 raised during the school’s annual ornament sale last week. It is one of many projects students undertook as part of the “LSE Gives Back” campaign.

Students from the Geek Squad, Safety Patrol and Work, Respect, Belong groups presented 19 boxes of food and hygiene supplies to families in the community last week. The kids collected donations and sold paper chains during recess and lunch for weeks to fill the boxes with food, toothpaste, gloves and other needed items. Each box came complete with a $25 gift card. The project was educational, kids said.

“I learned that instead of trying to get stuff for Christmas, you should give stuff,” said fourth-grader Kylie Larson

“We’re giving them what they want,” said fifth-grader Amelia Backlin. Because, one of her classmates said, “we already have what we want.”

Pennies for Paws

Over the past two weeks, students at Bryant Elementary School have been collecting change and items for the humane society during a “Pennies for Paws” campaign.

“The second-grade teachers here wanted to do something special for the community,” said second grade teacher Julie Milroy. People need items, she said, and so do animals. Mix in the fact that kids are big animal lovers and teachers decided to make the shelter their focus.

“It’s been adorable to see kids coming in with Ziploc bags of coins to put in the fishbowl,” Milroy said. A bulletin board display at the school features animals available for adoption at the shelter, and students will be visited by two canines who found forever homes despite having a rough start in life.

Animals can’t speak, Milroy said, but students can speak for them.

“It starts with us,” she said. “Even when you’re 8, you can bring in a can of dog food” or dig into your piggy bank.

One of the teachers, Lisa Persons, adopted a kitten named Sparkles from the shelter this week. And music teacher Lynne Putzke changed the words to some traditional holiday carols for the school’s winter sing-along, adding “Santa Paws” and “Santa Claws” into the mix, along with the words “We wish you a furry Christmas.” The donation drive has been very rewarding, Milroy said.

“It’s been precious and it will be something we do again,” she said.

The students’ efforts were appreciated by the humane society.

“We’ve had 150 cats and 163 dogs come through our door this year,” Anderson said. “It takes a lot to take care of them.”

The shelter currently houses 10 dogs, 15 cats and two kittens. Daily visions of a forever home for each of them dog Anderson’s thoughts.

“If we could get every animal we have here out of here in time for Christmas, that would be our ultimate Christmas wish,” she said.