Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wesley Chapel Elementary collects 5,000 cans of cat food for Labor of Love Animal Rescue

WESLEY CHAPEL

Tell 600 elementary school kids that homeless kitties need food, and watch 5,000 cans of cat food roll in as donations. That's what happened at Wesley Chapel Elementary School when PE coach Chris Gorman and his 37 safety patrol members organized a community service project, March Meowness.

Donations from the project were designated for Labor of Love Animal Rescue, an all-volunteer organization working to rescue homeless cats and find them permanent homes. The group also helps control the feral cat population in Pasco and Hillsborough counties through its trap, neuter and return program.

Wesley Chapel Elementary's mascot is the wildcat; the safety patrol extended that idea to helping "wild cats" in their community.

"We set our goal at 2,000 cans of food. I thought maybe we'd get 1,000 cans. I was amazed at 5,000 cans of cat food," said Gorman, who was stunned further when, after emailing every cat food company he could think of, a truck arrived bearing 500 cans from the Weruva Co., producer of a high-end cat food.

Safety patrol members made posters, created television commercials and appeared on a morning news show. As cat food arrived they arranged a display in the cafeteria, allowing students to see daily progress.

Individual cans trickled in, stuffed bags appeared and there were boxes too heavy to carry. Safety patrol members Christina Gregory and J'Sha Jennings, both 11 and both fifth-graders, rolled a cart to the car loop each morning, piled it high with cat food, then headed to the cafeteria's display.

"One time our cart was so full we had to go and get a second cart," Christina says.

Neely Peterson, another fifth-grade safety patrol, says her mom, dad and grandma contributed 30 cans.

The food kept rolling in, partly because kids cared about the homeless kitties and partly because they liked the incentives for themselves and their classes.

"We got to help others see our class maybe get extra days of PE," said fourth-grader Jarrod Smith.

"There were so many positive outcomes from our project," said Gorman, whose plan was to offer incentives that had academic value.

Any student who brought in 10 cans of food earned a highly sought miniature Safety Patrol badge. The individual student from each grade level who donated the most cans received an invitation to participate in the Safety Patrol Water Day Celebration, a special time reserved only for the safety patrol.

The class that brought in the most number of cans earned an extra hour of PE for each of five days, with the class choosing the physical activity. This prize held top value for students.

"I was really happy to see how so many of our students just wanted to have extra days of physical education," Gorman said.

Teachers caught on to the challenge and came up with their own ideas, realizing that five extra hours of planning time, while students were at extra PE, would help them too. Third-grade teachers Amanda Novotny and Marci Williams used the project as a way to increase student reading goals.

They also boosted the collection. Using the computer program iReady, which logs student reading time, the teachers awarded cat food to students based on the amount of time they read. Taylor Mack logged more than 32 hours of reading in two weeks, earning 510 cans of cat food.

"Sometimes I'd get up at 5 a.m. and start reading," said Taylor, 8.

"We wanted kids to support the community service project themselves, not just ask parents to buy cat food," said Williams, who used the cat food drive as a lesson on citizenship, being a team member and even the meaning of "philanthropist."

Williams and Novotny team-teach, and they were thrilled when their 36 students came out on top and won the five extra PE days. They'll use the time to plan more student activities.

Kids saw the real winners as the 250 homeless cats and kittens cared for by Labor of Love volunteers.

"I think what we did was important because we helped animals that don't have homes or anyone that loves them," said fifth-grader Paige Hixenbaugh.

Labor of Love Animal Rescue

Adoptions of kittens and cats are available Sundays at Petco in Wesley Chapel and Brandon. For more information, call (813) 238-6741. For a searchable database of shelters such as Labor of Love Animal Rescue, as well as pets available for adoption in your area, visit petfinder.com.

Wesley Chapel Elementary collects 5,000 cans of cat food for Labor of Love Animal Rescue 04/03/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 8:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Manahattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  2. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  3. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  4. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want

    Local

    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]