Elementary Schoolers Support Guide Dogs (and the pictures are the cutest)

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Burr Roots & Shoots Club’s project, “Game-athon, Craft Sale, Bake Sale, Raffle, and Photo Booth to Help Guiding Eyes for the Blind,” is our April 2018 Roots & Shoots Project of the Month! See more projects we love here.

Roots & Shoots members at Burr Elementary School in Fairfield, Connecticut recently completed a many-month, multi-faceted project they called, “Game-athon, Craft Sale, Bake Sale, Raffle, and Photo Booth to Help Guiding Eyes for the Blind.”

Burr Elementary School has over a decade-long relationship with Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The group’s co-leader, Mei-Ling Uliasz, explains that “Guiding Eyes for the Blind has become woven into the fabric of our school community.” Every year, people who raise guide dogs come to Fairfield and attend Roots & Shoots meetings with their pups-in-training. Handlers happily share their special training experiences while the students get to interact with the dogs.

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The fundraising and awareness-building project was inspired by the dedicated puppy-raisers and the heartwarming human-animal relationships. At weekly meetings, Roots & Shoots members see the amount of work, compassion, patience, and love it takes to raise a dog that will go on to help someone increase their independence. According to Mei-Ling, “every student gains great compassion for service dogs and the people they help.” It is impactful for members to see the pups progress week after week, mirroring the hard-work to carry out service learning projects.

Expert Project Planners

The Burr Roots & Shoots Club has their project planning down to a science in which they allot 5-weeks to each project. In week one, after hearing from the Guiding Eyes trainers, members broke into groups with adult volunteers to brainstorm ideas to spread awareness and raise funds. A group vote determined which thoughts would become projects. At the second meeting, in addition to meeting with more pups-in-training, the group created posters to publicize the event and made a public service announcement video to be shared with the school. The members started to gather sponsors for the Game-athon and collect dog-themed items for raffle baskets. Between the second and third meeting, posters were hung up, the PSA was aired in school, and the event was shared in the school newspaper. In meeting three, they created bookmarks to be sold at the event that featured photos of Guiding Eyes trainer and dog with specific fun facts. Club members also made keychains with paw prints.

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Week four doubled as the event! The Game-athon took place in the gym where guests could partake in board and card games as well as an obstacle course. Outside of the cafeteria, club members sold baked goods, raffle tickets, and the crafts they made. The event was well attended by parents, students, and Guiding Eyes pairs. The fifth meeting was all about celebrating the success and the fact that they raised $2121.62! Students received certificates of participation and presented the money to the puppy raisers. This project exceed expectations and had an enormous impact on the community the students hoped to support.

Learn more about Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

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The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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About Author

Susan Janowsky is a Jane Goodall Institute Roots & Shoots intern and current senior at Tufts University studying Art History and Anthropology with a focus on Human-Animal Interaction. On campus she is involved in Tufts Animal Welfare, Hillel, and Ski Team. Her passion for animals and conservation has led her to where she is today. Susan has been on an archeological dig in Belize, worked with camels in New York, and has a very handsome labradoodle, Pepper.