RIVERSIDE — On Feb. 7, PAWS & More Animal Shelter needed $450 for new tires, but in large part because of students at Highland Elementary, the shelter already has the money.
Since October, Highland Elementary has been selling goodies like stress balls, pencils and slime to students at their school store. This past week, they gave the $200 they raised to PAWS & More Animal Shelter.
“With their $200, they brought us to being just $50 dollars away from our goal,” said Amber Talbot, the shelter’s manager. “They were really able to help us get pushed ahead toward our goal. They made a huge impact for us.”
By Talbot’s estimate, they shouldn’t have needed new tires for up to a year, but the extreme weather of the past few weeks prompted them to get the tires checked.
“(The truck) kept getting stuck in our own parking lot,” Talbot said. “Very little (ice or snow) would cause it to get stuck.”
According to Talbot, the truck sees a lot of use in a given week. They work closely with the Sheriff’s Department and will help them in responding to animal-related calls.
“A month ago there was a car that someone had stolen and there was a cat in the vehicle with no individual around,” said Talbot. “In a week there’s a wide range of things that can come up, and we use it a lot just for our routine vet appointments. We also haul large quantities of food with it where we’ll go pick up a pallet of food for the animals.”
So when Highland teacher Jill Strubbe reached out to her on Facebook saying her fifth-graders wanted to donate money, Talbot was thrilled.
Highland planned on donating the money since the start of the school year when Strubbe talked with her class about the store. She explained to them that they weren’t raising the money for themselves, but for a good cause. She then asked them what cause they’d be interested in putting the money toward.
“One of the first things they said was ‘animals,’” Strubbe recalled. “A lot of them have pets and some of them live on farms, so that was the No. 1 cause they wanted to help with.”
The store opens for all grades on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 8:25 a.m. and even though it’s based out of Strubbe’s classroom, it’s run and organized by the entire fifth grade.
Fifth-graders will make sure students in kindergarten through third grade get to Strubbe’s class and back OK, while other students set up the store, count the cash or promote items ranging in price from 25 cents to $3.
“They run the store completely,” Strubbe said. “ And they love helping the younger (students) figure out what they can get (with their money). Especially some of my students that struggle in math they see that they can help,”
The other $250 for the PAWS & More Animal Shelter’s tires were raised through the community donations ranging from $10 to $50.
“We’re so grateful that everyone was so supportive,” Talbot said. “Every penny counts. They’re making a difference, no matter at what level they’re able to give.”
Strubbe’s not yet decided what they’re going to do for the rest of the year, whether or not the money goes to PAWS again, she hopes that her students are able to research causes they’re interested in.
Though the goal for their tires has been met, PAWS is currently doing a “pink paw” donation, where people can give $5 for animal care and receive their name on a pink paper paw in the shelter’s lobby.