Since November 2017, third and fourth-grade students at J. Mason Tomlin Elementary School have participated in the annual VIP dance, with about $2,000 raised from the event each year. It is donated to the Mantua Township K-9 unit.
But because of COVID, this year’s dance gave way to a fundraiser where students donated their spare change. The $1,803 raised was presented to K-9 handler William Donovan on April 27.
“Since COVID came along, and we realized that we couldn’t have the dance, we just decided to have what we call coins for canines,” said Debbie Ottinger, a school registrar.
Each of the district’s three schools provided a collection bucket for the month of March so students could drop off their change. Ottinger noted that caring for K-9s can cost up to $10,000 per dog each year. School staffers also donated $5.
“We did a lot better than what we thought we were going to do,” said Ottinger. “Curriculum Supervisor Theresa Labbree, who usually runs the dance, and myself came up with the idea of coins for canines together, so we can make it easier for kids to drop their spare change in the bucket,” she said.
On hand during the check presentation were some of the kids from Tomlin elementary who donated change, along with a police dog named Boomer, a golden Labrador Retriever trained to sniff out explosives and crime scene evidence. He is one of three trained canines currently in the K-9 unit.
During the presentation, Donovan explained to the children that the K-9 unit isn’t funded by the township or the police department but by community fundraisers and donations.
“You guys just paid for medical bills for the dogs for the next two years,” Donovan told the students.