The dogs and cats at the Burlington County Animal Shelter recently received some extra love and attention from a group of Lenape High School students.
The high school’s Army Junior Reserve Training Corps (JROTC) organized a special “Help Cadets Help Pets” day at the shelter on May 14. During the daylong event, the students assisted the shelter staff, giving tours to visitors, making dog and cat toys and treat dispensers and promoting adoptions on social media. In addition, the students staffed information tables for visitors to learn about different dog and cat breeds, pet CPR, first aid and disaster preparation.
The cadets also presented the shelter with a large donation of more than 300 items, including pet food, toys, blankets and treats the cadets collected from fellow students, staff and families.
The activities were all part of a service-learning project the students themselves devised and undertook to develop skills and learn about the importance of teamwork and community service.
Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, who attended the event and met with the cadets and their instructor, said the project was a shining example of youth engagement and service.
“I love interacting with youth, especially when they’re doing great things in their community,” Eckel told the students on Saturday before presenting them with a Certificate of Excellence in recognition of their service.
“This was a great service project that involved all of you. I loved hearing about the life skills you all brought to this, the learning you did and the energy you brought to it. It’s very impressive and I know our shelter is really thankful for everything you’ve done for it,” Eckel added.
Joelle Guay, a Lenape High junior and the JROTC cadets’ leader on the project, said learning about and assisting the shelter was a great experience for the entire group.
“It’s so important to give back to your community,” Joelle said. “We had a great experience and the people at the shelter were great to work with. We’d love to come back again and hopefully we can collect even more.”
“Today really exemplified service learning,” said LTC Ronald Tuczak, the senior JROTC instructor at Lenape High School. “The students did a tremendous job and learned a lot about the shelter and its operations, but also teamwork. It was a huge success.”
Commissioner Eckel said the county shelter would be thrilled to have the Lenape students back again.
“Our animal shelter staff and volunteers do an extraordinary job caring for all the animals at the shelter every day, but Saturday’s service-learning day was special for them and the students,” Eckel said. “It gave these students an up-close-look at how the shelter operates and the value of community service. Our shelter staff, volunteers and animals got to interact with some really great kids. Our entire Board applauds everyone who participated and was involved.”
The animal shelter is located at 35 Academy Drive in Westampton and is open for visits and tours on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 7 p.m. It is closed for public visits on Wednesdays. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead at 609-265-5073 to schedule an appointment.