Longsjo Students’ Pet Project? Helping Animals
By Chad Garner
Special to the Sentinel & Enterprise
FITCHBURG -- Longsjo Middle School sixth-graders Yandel Negron, Mirely Deya, Evie Rivera Acevedo and Monica Stewart have a passion for animals.
The foursome comprise a Longsjo United Way Youth Venture group named Big Donations for Tiny Lives.
This team, with gigantic hearts for animals, recently collected and delivered over $200 worth of items to help animals at the Sterling Animal Shelter.
“All through my life, I’ve had animals and I love animals,” said Stewart. “It makes me feel really good to help animals in any way that I can.”
Last year, Negron read an article about the number of animals who are euthanized each year while they’re housed in shelters.
The article had a huge impact on the animal-loving Negron, who used it as a springboard for his project when he joined Longsjo’s UWYV program.
Yandel’s passion for animals was contagious, and he quickly added two fellow fifth-grade students to his venture.
This venture needed to form an action plan, which included researching their idea, formulating a budget, designing/proposing fundraisers to support it and then present their vision to a panel of community members.
At the end of last year, Yandel and his fellow group members were approved to launch their “Big Donations for Tiny Lives” venture.
The group raised money for the shelter by planning a photo-booth fundraiser in October, and then helped promote and support “Duct Tape December,” while receiving half of the profits.
This year, one of the original members of the venture moved out of the district, but two new classmates joined the initiative.
The current sixth-grade team of Negron, Deya, Stewart and Rivera Acevedo has been making great strides this school year.
They zeroed in on which animals they could help best. So they researched local animal shelters and eventually found that Sterling Animal Shelter would be the best fit for their venture.
At the end of January, the students went shopping for needed items for Sterling Animal Shelter and delivered those much-needed products in early February.
The staff in Sterling was obviously extremely appreciative and also gave the students a tour of the facility.
“The students were thrilled to see how their donations would benefit the shelter, and are hoping to make a return visit in late March or early April with a new delivery of donations,” said Longsjo UWYV Champion Nancy Bakanowsky.
Last month, “Big Donations for Tiny Lives” hosted a school-wide competition called “Furry Friend February” to see which advisory collected the most donations for the Sterling Animal Shelter.
The donations were also tied into last month’s student-led conferences at Longsjo with families being asked to bring in a donated item when they attend these conferences.
“I think we’re making other students and their families understand why it’s important to help animals,” said Negron.
The future is bright for “Big Donations for Tiny Lives.”
The group has expressed their desire to continue with this important venture through their middle-school years.
They want to make sure that shelters have the required supplies to properly take care of all their animals.
The members of “Big Donations for Tiny Lives” definitely have gigantic hearts for animals.
Garner is the school district’s communications coordinator.