For the furry friends in need

By ERIK SOKOLOWSKI

The fifth-grade students at Bret Harte Elementary School are accustomed to doing a yearly service project. In the past, the students and PTA have coordinated Harte for Haiti and Harte for the World.

This year, the students kept it close to home, and the recipients of their charity all had cold, wet noses.

“We try t have the fifth graders do service projects to give back,” PTA President Tracy Forlenza said. “We leave it up to students. This year, my daughter, who loves animals, asked if we could help the Voorhees Animal Orphanage.”

The Voorhees Animal Orphanage started in 1988, providing shelter, food and medical care to stray and unwanted animals until permanent homes can be found. Each year the VAO takes in nearly 1,500 abandoned, unwanted, stray and owner relinquished animals.

And with that many animals, the fifth graders enlisted the help of Brownie Troop 30053.

Brownie Troop co-leaders Becky Lapinson and Kim Warren were already preparing to do a animal badge with the troop, and the perfect opportunity fell into their lap.

“We meet at Bret Harte and all the girls are in second grade there,” Lapinson said. “We were working on animal patch that teaches the girls care and understanding for the animals. We found out what the fifth graders were doing, so we decided to join forces.”

“We were looking to show the kids how to run a service a project.” Warren said, “and how it would impact someone or something, the animals, else. We wanted to teach the girls how to a start a service project and implement it and see the results.”

The project was announced just before winter break, and the announcement had an immediate impact on the Harte students.

“We went in during the lunch period, as we knew we’d have a captive audience,” Forlenza said. “We asked the kids where do you sleep, ‘a bed’ they said, and we told them how some of the animals sleep on cold concrete, and sometimes the animals go without food. Well, the kids all wanted to go that day and get the animals.”

Starting immediately after the school’s winter break, kids began collecting food, supplies, blankets and towels for the VAO.

“A lot of the kids are animal lovers,” Forlenza said. “We chose them (the VAO) because they are a no kill shelter and they accept animals from everywhere. We talked to kids, telling them to donate anything — food, supplies, sheets and towels. About the same time the Brownies were about to do their badge, and it just came together. We ran side-by-side, with the fifth graders collecting food and money, and the Brownies collecting sheets and supplies.”

The Brownies also created a poster that will be revealed when Mayor Bernie Platt visits the school March 17 to present a proclamation to the students.

“I often say that Cherry Hill Schools turn out some of the kindest, most generous young men and women I’ve ever met. The boys and girls at Bret Harte Elementary School have once again proven that point,” Platt said. “Their generosity is an inspiration to all of us, and proof that seemingly small gestures can mean so much to those in need. I am proud of these boys and girls, and I look forward to giving them the thanks and recognition they deserve.”

After the school had collected 11 bags of towels and sheets, supplies, food and about $50, Forlenza, her daughter Cassidy, Lauren Trunfio and Jessica Haya braved the wicked winter weather to deliver the supplies to the VAO.

“When we were there, the kids needed a dog,” Forlenza said. “You see their little faces, and you just want to take them home. They had a good time with it. We try to teach the kids a sense of helping everyone.

“That you have to help everyone around you to make it in this world.”

“The girls (Brownies) enjoyed it,” Lapinson said. “The girls were very inspired to work on this and started finding things at home. We talked about pets at home versus pets at the orphanage, and how there was no one to take of these animals.

“The girls stepped right in to take care of the animals. They felt a great responsibility towards it. We really enjoyed this service project, and the girls got a sense of satisfaction participating in it.”

“This was a real feel good type thing for the students,” Forlenza said. “They learned that animals are a big part of community, too.”

For more information about the Voorhees Animal Orphanage, or to help out, visit www.theanimalorphanage.org.

By ERIK SOKOLOWSKIThe Cherry Hill SunThe fifth-grade students at Bret Harte Elementary School are accustomed to doing a yearly service project. In the past, the students and PTA have coordinated Harte for Haiti and Harte for the World.This year, the students kept it close to home, and the recipients of their charity all had cold, wet noses.“We try to have the fifth graders do service projects to give back,” PTA President Tracy Forlenza said. “We leave it up to students. This year, my daughter, who loves animals, asked if we could help the Voorhees Animal Orphanage.”The Voorhees Animal Orphanage started in 1988, providing shelter, food and medical care to stray and unwanted animals until permanent homes can be found. Each year the VAO takes in nearly 1,500 abandoned, unwanted, stray and owner relinquished animals.And with that many animals, the fifth graders enlisted the help of Brownie Troop 30053.Brownie Troop co-leaders Becky Lapinson and Kim Warren were already preparing to do a animal badge with the troop, and the perfect opportunity fell into their lap.“We meet at Bret Harte and all the girls are in second grade there,” Lapinson said. “We were working on animal patch that teaches the girls care and understanding for the animals. We found out what the fifth graders were doing, so we decided to join forces.”“We were looking to show the kids how to run a service a project.” Warren said, “and how it would impact someone or something, the animals, else. We wanted to teach the girls how to a start a service project and implement it and see the results.”The project was announced just before winter break, and the announcement had an immediate impact on the Harte students.“We went in during the lunch period, as we knew we’d have a captive audience,” Forlenza said. “We asked the kids where do you sleep, ‘a bed’ they said, and we told them how some of the animals sleep on cold concrete, and sometimes the animals go without food. Well, the kids all wanted to go that day and get the animals.”Starting immediately after the school’s winter break, kids began collecting food, supplies, blankets and towels for the VAO.“A lot of the kids are animal lovers,” Forlenza said. “We chose them (the VAO) because they are a no kill shelter and they accept animals from everywhere. We talked to kids, telling them to donate anything — food, supplies, sheets and towels. About the same time the Brownies were about to do their badge, and it just came together. We ran side-by-side, with the fifth graders collecting food and money, and the Brownies collecting sheets and supplies.”The Brownies also created a poster that will be revealed when Mayor Bernie Platt visits the school March 17 to present a proclamation to the students.“I often say that Cherry Hill Schools turn out some of the kindest, most generous young men and women I’ve ever met. The boys and girls at Bret Harte Elementary School have once again proven that point,” Platt said. “Their generosity is an inspiration to all of us, and proof that seemingly small gestures can mean so much to those in need. I am proud of these boys and girls, and I look forward to giving them the thanks and recognition they deserve.” After the school had collected 11 bags of towels and sheets, supplies, food and about $50, Forlenza, her daughter Cassidy, Lauren Trunfio and Jessica Haya braved the wicked winter weather to deliver the supplies to the VAO.“When we were there, the kids needed a dog,” Forlenza said. “You see their little faces, and you just want to take them home. They had a good time with it. We try to teach the kids a sense of helping everyone. “That you have to help everyone around you to make it in this world.”“The girls (Brownies) enjoyed it,” Lapinson said. “The girls were very inspired to work on this and started finding things at home. We talked about pets at home versus pets at the orphanage, and how there was no one to take of these animals. “The girls stepped right in to take care of the animals. They felt a great responsibility towards it. We really enjoyed this service project, and the girls got a sense of satisfaction participating in it.”“This was a real feel good type thing for the students,” Forlenza said. “They learned that animals are a big part of community, too.”For more information about the Voorhees Animal Orphanage, or to help out, visit www.theanimalorphanage.org.