Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Losing Ourselves in the Service of Others

I truly feel that teachers have a duty...not just to teach kids how to write, read, and solve problems, but to find a way to be a contributing member to society. Teachers have the unique opportunity to instill character and compassion in the students they serve for 180 school days.

In the past, I organized an after-school group with the purpose of raising awareness of and money for local animal rescue groups. These types of organizations have always been something of a passion of mine and I wanted to share that with the children I had the privilege to work with everyday. We baked and sold pet treats after sending home order forms. First mistake! We had THOUSANDS of orders placed - great for the cause...not so much on our ability to mass produce perishable pet treats. I had my grandmother, neighbors, friends, and mother baking for days!!! I laugh looking back at it now, but it sure wasn't so funny when we were all covered in flour and peanut butter! Needless to say, we raised over $800 for our local group based out of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. 

Having loved the feeling that came with making that kind of donation, I wanted to tackle the project again with my new students at my new school. The past three years, my students have thoroughly enjoyed learning how to bake and sell dog treats. It is always funny and pretty impressive to see how they are able to come up with marketing ideas for selling our goodies. 

This past June was definitely the best experience we have had to date. After reading stories about therapy animals and shelter pets, my class decided that they wanted to join in on our 3rd annual sale. I researched local rescue groups and showed the class the websites for each one. My class voted to help a local group called, One Love Animal Rescue. Now it was time for the hard work to begin!

                                                  (parent permission granted to use photos)

                                                        (permission granted to use photos)

The students in my class used their measurement and multiplication skills to figure out how to double and triple recipes. They had to set a goal regarding how many treats they wanted to sell and then decide how many batches would need to be made, how many treats would have to be baked, and how much potential money that could make for our donation. They got gooey, sticky, messy, and dirty and couldn't have been happier! 

I know what you are thinking...what kind of crazy lunatic takes twenty-four 8 and 9 year old kids to a Home Economics room that has hot ovens, wooden rolling pins, and sharp objects?! I DO! It is days like these that kids can truly shine!!! With expectations set and responsibility placed on their tiny shoulders, you would be amazed at what they can do! We made 28 batches of dough...hundreds of treats...and hundreds of dollars! 

                                               (parent permission given for use of photos)

We were able to present One Love with a check for $240!!! They were so thankful for the donation that they wanted to show up in person to tell the kids how grateful they really were. Sherri Smith and Dawn Hulings brought a furry friend by the name of Zuzu to our school. They taught the children how to safely and appropriately approach an unknown dog. Each student had a chance to spend some quality time with the beloved Zuzu. 

                                                     (permission granted for use of photos)
We also made our local news! Wacth us below!!!!

I am reminded at the end of this project each year that it is worth every ounce of stress and organization that goes into making this happen! Seeing their smiling faces, tears in their eyes, and newly found passion for helping animals is nothing short of a day maker. 

Writing this post was not easy. It was difficult to describe something that felt so amazing. There are truly no words I can use to get your mind or heart where mine were on this day.

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