You can do so much during your recess. Callie Evelyn and Jenna, 4th graders from Versailles, Ohio, were inspired by a small spark last year.
Evelyn tells that she read a book at school about how a child saved a zoo from closing in her town. She loved animals and raised money for them. This gave us an idea of starting a charity to help animals. Evelyn and her family were already involved in the community. They played with animals in shelters to keep them entertained, and fostered pregnant kittens for Our Farm Sanctuary , a nearby rescue group.
They knew that if they stuck to it, even if they didn’t know what they were doing, something positive would come out of their efforts. Jenna said they talked about their ideas during recess and then went to Evelyn’s home to plan. Callie says that their plan really took shape after they started focusing on cat.
She says, “We felt sorry for the cats who were left alone and wanted to get them home so they could be cared for better.” We did our best to help make this happen. She admits that she is a dog person with a huge heart.
This is the beginning of a lesson on grassroots activism. These young advocates were guided by professionals from Our Farm Sanctuary, and they also helped out in other shelters and rescues. They learned the most important things shelters require. Evelyn says that when you foster a dog, you need to give them lots of items to keep him healthy. These include food and bedding. We use litter!
Next up: Fundraising. We put money jars in several stores of our town. Jenna explains that they also asked their family to donate. We used it to purchase food for the cats.” Callie says that the couple also posted flyers in their school where they were allowed to host a donation drive. They collected food, toys and other items from children and adults.
What is the result? Pets, Paws, & Claws is a non-profit organization that helps homeless cats. Three co-founders share responsibilities such as fundraising and planning. Evelyn, her family and Audrey still care for cats. Audrey also maintains the PPC web site. Callie explains that Evelyn’s mother, Brittney handles many of the more adult tasks. She takes care of money, makes phone calls, arranges meetings and drives us around. “We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish as much without her!”
Through PPC, Callie, Evelyn, and Jenna are able to expand their mission in various ways, such as finding homes for a colony of about 20-30 cats currently living under cars, or partnering with veterinarians to ensure the health of pregnant strays and their kittens. Recently, PPC was contacted to help with trapping, neutering, and releasing another outdoor cat colony.
“I feel special knowing we’re being asked to help cats because it will give them a better life,” Evelyn says. “It’s really neat to watch kittens grow, and even though it’s sad to say goodbye, our work helps them find real homes.”
Corporate donors and other organizations recognize their work now, too. (Remember, they’re in 4th grade!) This brings them closer to achieving a major goal for PPC: a spot called the Shabby Tabby Barn. A standalone sanctuary, the intent is to house cats from various backgrounds together, have a central location for adoption and supplies, and “offer veterinary care, entertainment and of course, our undivided attention and love.”
“We’re trying to get the message out that people should visit their local shelters and adopt a pet that needs a home rather than going to a pet store,” Callie says. “There are plenty of animals now that need homes.”
So while we sit back, rethink our adult life choices, and contemplate our need for inspirational recess time, we’ll also keep our eyes on the enterprising progress of Callie, Evelyn, and Jenna. It’s clear these superheroes are well on their way to making the world a better place, one sweet rescue kitty at a time.