A group of fifth graders from R. Roger Rowe School came together to lead a pet supply drive for the Camp Pendleton Animal Shelter, donating $700 worth of supplies for cats and dogs in need on Feb. 3.
It all started when Ella Kaminsky had an idea that she wanted to help animals—her group of animal-loving girlfriends — Abby Pinkerton, Nila Mehta, Ella Ryland Haw and Caitlyn Van Hoose — were happy to join. With the help of librarian Stacey Halboth, they pitched their idea to Principal Kim Pinkerton (also Abby’s mom) for approval. As the project sponsor, Halboth helped the girls to find a shelter that doesn’t get a lot of donations, finding Pendleton. Many people aren’t even aware that the Marine base has an animal shelter and Halboth also loved the idea of supporting the military.
The girls contacted the shelter and found out what its biggest needs were and created posters to spread the word on campus about their drive—asking for monetary donations as well as slightly-used towels and blankets.
“I was so impressed with the fact that they wanted to help animals in need,” said Elana Manos, the shelter’s animal caretaker. “It is refreshing to see young children have the foresight to organize an important effort and see it through. Our shelter is not government funded even though we are located on a military base. We operate on donated items so every single item donated has made a positive impact for the animals under our care.”
Starting on Jan. 14, a donation jar was set up in the library and Ella’s mom agreed to match every dollar raised.
The most fun part for the girls was going on a shopping spree at Petco. While they were initially drawn to the toys, they knew they had to make wise decisions to fill the biggest needs at the shelter. While they still got a few toys, they gathered up pet beds, food, leashes and collars, cat litter and scratch pads for cats. They also purchased much-needed cleaning supplies such as sponges, detergent, dish soap and office supplies for the shelter.
George Sousa, a local Korean War veteran that Rowe students sent on an Honor Flight last year, went with the girls to deliver the supplies. They were escorted onto the base which Abby said made them feel very special.
“It was amazing on base, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was,” said Caitlyn.
“It was like a little town, you felt like you were in a different country,” Ryland said. “I felt like my mind opened up when I saw all of the animals in the cages.”
With their project, the girls learned a lot about giving back to animals that aren’t as lucky as their own pets and how something like an old blanket could find a special new purpose for a pet in need rather than end up in a landfill, Nila said.
“One blanket can change a dog or cat’s life,” Caitlyn said.
The girls are already looking to making their drive an annual effort and even hope to volunteer at the Camp Pendleton Animal Shelter some day.
“It was a pleasure having the teacher, parents and girls take the time to come out and make a difference,” Manos said.
To learn more about the shelter and available pets, check out petfinder.com/member/us/ca/camp-pendleton/camp-pendleton-animal-shelter-ca545/