Students from two Toms River schools got a lesson in caring, sharing and giving after sponsoring a donation drive that garnered $1,651 for the Associated Humane Societies’ Vested Interest program, and hundreds of blankets, towels, food, toys and treats for the Forked River animal shelter at the Popcorn Park Zoo.
Toms River Intermediate South and Intermediate East’s Early Act Club, a community service club sponsored by the Toms River Sunrise Rotary, held the donation drive at both schools.
According to Lydia Hull, club adviser at Intermediate East, the kids decided to help out after learning about Popcorn Park Zoo and AHS from South’s club adviser Kim Lavin.
Initially the two schools began their project by asking for animal supply donations. The response was overwhelming. Ms. Hull said her co-adviser, Mary Steiniger, and students then decided to hold a brownie sale to collect money for Vested Interest. In a few days, the group gathered $751. About $200 was also collected through a teacher dress-down day, in which participating instructors pay $5 to wear jeans to school on a targeted date.
The club at East then baked cupcakes and held a similar sale and brought in $700.
“Our Vested Interest program is working to put a bullet-proof vest on every police dog in New Jersey, and is successful simply because of donations like this one,” said Roseann Trezza, Popcorn Park Zoo/Associated Humane Society Executive Director. “These young men and women should be very proud in knowing that their donation will protect the lives of at least two of these K-9 protectors.”
“We heartily thank the students of the First Acts Clubs in Toms River for their thoughtfulness and community involvement,” she added.
Ms Lavin said the real treat and eye-opener for the youngsters was taking the trip to Popcorn Park Zoo to make the donations. Many of the students had never been to the zoo and seen first-hand how these animals had been given a new lease on life, thanks to generous donations like theirs.
“Believe it or not, there were tears in some of the kids’ eyes,” Ms. Lavin said. “I know next year we will do this again and it will mean much more to them because they see how they’ve helped.”