Cherry Hill Girl Scout lends a helping hand to local dog rescue

Jessica Miller created handmade dogs toys for Tiny Paws Animal Rescue as part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project.

Cherry Hill Girl Scout Jessica Miller takes a photo with Gidget, a rescue dog from Tiny Paws Rescue. Jessica created dozens of handmade toys to donate to Tiny Paws as part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project.

Cherry Hill Girl Scout and Rosa International Middle School eighth grader Jessica Miller has always wanted to volunteer at a local animal shelter.

However, with many animal shelters requiring volunteers to be at least 18 years old, Jessica has not had the chance to become a volunteer yet.

Instead of volunteering, On Thursday night, Jessica figured out another way to help a local rescue her Girl Scout Silver Award project.

Jessica, a member of Cherry Hill Girl Scout Troop №30325, created dozens of homemade dog toys through clothing donations. Jessica donated the toys to Tiny Paws Animal Rescue, a nonprofit group based out of Cinnaminson.

Jessica first met volunteers with Tiny Paws Rescue while attending Cherry Hill Harvest Festival last fall. The Girl Scouts volunteer to do face painting at the event each fall.

“I was there early, so I was walking around and I ran into their booth,” Jessica said. “They were really nice, so I thought I might want to volunteer there when I’m old enough, so I wrote down their information.”

Kim Astringer helped start Tiny Paws in 2015. The rescue focuses on fostering small dogs.

“We are foster-based, so we have foster homes all throughout Central and Southern New Jersey, Philadelphia and surrounding counties,” Astringer said. “All of the dogs come from local shelters.”

The rescue frequently brings in animals who are in danger of being euthanized. Many of the dogs Tiny Paws brings in are in need of medical treatment. Most of the money Tiny Paws raises goes toward paying for medical treatment for its foster dogs.

Jessica wanted to figure out a way to help Tiny Paws’ fostering and adoption efforts and began brainstorming for ideas.

“I know my dogs like toys, they make him so happy,” Jessica said. “A lot of dogs get adopted when they’re happiest as opposed to cowering in the back of a crate. So I thought it may help get dogs adopted.”

Jessica decided to make small chew toys made out of old clothes. Jessica orchestrated a collection drive for old t-shirts, pajamas and leggings.

“I collected them from my friends at school, at my house, people at Girl Scouts,” she said.

The donated items were then made into small chew toys for Tiny Paws’ dogs. Jessica made about half of the toys and received some help in making the rest.

At a Girl Scout meeting on May 4, Jessica presented the bag of toys to Tiny Paws Rescue. Tiny Paws also brought three of its dogs to the meeting and talked about the organization’s mission with the Girl Scouts.

Jessica wants her Silver Award project to serve as a lesson for the younger Scouts in her group.

“Even though they’re not old enough to volunteer at a shelter, they can still help in some way,” Jessica said.

Tiny Paws is continuing to grow in the two years since its founding. The organization is holding an array of fundraisers in the coming months and currently has several dogs up for adoption.

For more information on Tiny Paws Rescue, visit www.tprescue.org.