PAWS Magazine

Issue 42, Summer 1999

Young people turn to their neighbors to help the homeless animals at PAWS

Demonstrating ingenuity, drive, and poise beyond their years, Eckstein Middle School students Lisa Shawcroft and Naomi Ray-Schoenfeld recently helped the animals of the PAWS Companion Animal Shelter by convincing dozens of their Seattle neighbors to donate money, dog food, blankets, toys, and other companion animal supplies.

Because of very stringent work safety requirements, almost all volunteering jobs at the PAWS shelter have a minimum age requirement of 18 years old. This means that when youngsters like Lisa and Naomi arrive at PAWS, with a strong desire to volunteer, PAWS Volunteer Coordinator Janet Hausdorfer steers them toward direct community projects that can help the animals.

Like many middle and high school students, Lisa and Naomi have community service requirements to fulfill. As part of their Washington state history class, Lisa and Naomi were supervised by their teacher, Shawn Kenyon, in 16 hours of community service.

"I knew that I wanted to volunteer for PAWS," said Naomi. "I wanted to work with animals in the shelter."

Unfortunately Naomi and Lisa quickly learned of PAWS’ age requirements. Rather than going away disappointed, Naomi and Lisa decide that they could still help PAWS; they would solicit donations in their neighborhood.

They printed a flyer "Help the Homeless Animals at PAWS" and distributed it in their North Seattle neighborhood. They walked to about 60 houses, handing out the flyer, and letting people know that they would return on the following Sunday to pick up the donations.

"At first we didn’t think anyone would give us anything," said Lisa.

As part of their assignment, the girls were required to write a report on their experiences. "After the first day, we were ready to write a report on how people didn’t want to give anything," says Lisa.

Fortunately for PAWS, the good folks of their north Seattle neighborhood came through for the animals. Lisa’s mom Helen drove the girls around the neighborhood on the designated Sunday as they filled the car the coat hooks with donated goods.

"It felt really good to see how much stuff we collected," said Lisa.

Their haul was quite impressive. The final tally of items they brought in included: one 20 pound bag of dog food, two bags of opened dog food, two boxes of Vita bones, one box of milk bones, seven cans of pet food, two ceramic food dishes, two metal food dishes, four boxes of cat litter, one cat bed, two soft dog toys, thirty-two towels and wash cloths, four packs of dog treats, six packages of catnip toys, one brush, one flea comb, two leashes, three collars, fifteen tennis balls, and one box of litter liners. Oh, and 179 dollars cash.

"I think it was wonderful to see how well the community responded," said Naomi’s dad, Paul Schoenfeld. Paul helped out by transporting the donated goods to PAWS.

Janet Hausdorfer, the PAWS shelter volunteer coordinator, has a packet available designed especially for kids who want to volunteer. It offers tons of suggestions for how kids can help the animals. For more information, call Janet at (425) 787-2500 extension 829.

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