The area’s four-legged furry loved ones have not been forgotten this holiday as donations were gathered for the Oakdale Animal Shelter once again. For several years Penny Bartholomew, Instructional Coach for the Riverbank Unified School District, has led the charge for pets in the community. Students and staff joined forces to help the homeless pets at the shelter.
“All schools showed big hearts for our furry friends,” stated Bartholomew. “I am proud of our staff and students and a huge thank you to all who donated. The goal was to fill the back of my truck and we did, from dog and cat food, treats, toys, bowls, blankets, leashes, harnesses and more.”
The Oakdale Animal Shelter provides services for both Riverbank and Oakdale. Servicing both cities can be challenging for the shelter but with partners like the Oakdale Shelter Pet Alliance (OSPA) that sponsor adoption specials and voucher programs and community members like Bartholomew, they have had success.
“It started as a project she did with her fourth grade class, but grew to include the whole district as word spread among staff and parents, and others asked if they could donate also,” said OSPA Vice President Debi Scoles. “Penny was the organizer who accepted the donations and brought them to the shelter.”
She said that the Cardozo Leadership Teacher, Emily Crane was key in getting the students involved along with Davina Cipriano with Riverbank High School, and Cali Avey, student council/leadership teacher at California Avenue Elementary. Bartholomew works for the District but has her office at Mesa Verde Elementary School and collected a large amount of the donations received.
“It’s always nice to give an adoption celebration gift that goes home with the pet,” added Scoles. “Penny asks if there is anything especially needed and almost always kitten and puppy kibble is most needed. This year dog harnesses of various sizes and dog sweaters of various sizes were especially needed.”
Scoles added that Bartholomew oversees the drive and delivered the donated items to the shelter this past week, brightening up the holiday season.
The collection began in November and most of the items will be used at the shelter and the rest will be given to those adopting animals to assist with their new pet at the new forever home. The plethora of donations included blankets, food bowls, harnesses, dog clothing, food for adult dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies, treats, toys, beds, and crates.
“I think the donation drive for the homeless pets is a wonderful opportunity for students to give back to the community and to show compassion for those less fortunate,” expressed Scoles. “And it warms the hearts of staff and volunteers to know that the animals are not forgotten during this season of giving.”Pets can add love and joy to people’s lives and students and staff at RUSD have helped increase the comfort at the shelter for the pets until they find their new forever home.