TALENT – Students in Talent Elementary's Outdoor Discovery Program handed a check for $122 to The Street Dog Project co-founder Nancy Lyon on Wednesday, culminating the public component of ODP's homeless pets project.
The kindergarten through second-grade students raised the money by collecting bottles and cans and returning them to Ray's Food Place in Talent, making the trip in small groups. One altruistic incoming kindergartner – a younger sibling of a current second-grader – made radish seed tapes and sold them at the Talent Craft Day to raise $20.
A local nonprofit founded in 2013, The Street Dog Project's primary mission, according to its website, "is to provide free spay/neuter services for animals of the unhoused and no/very low income in order to improve the lives of animals and prevent overpopulation."
ODP teacher Erin Mahanay said the project allowed her students to explore southern Oregon's homeless crisis in a way that was age appropriate.
"We had (Street Dog co-founders) Nancy and JW come in and talk to us and they brought pictures and a little slideshow and talked about the work that they do," Mahanay said. "We talked about why a person without a home would want to have a pet, what are some reasons that would be important to them."
The students researched other organizations that help homeless pets but ultimately decided to focus on The Street Dog Project.
"Voice and choice is another really big part of project-based learning to build engagement for kids," Mahanay said. "You give them as much control as you can in an age-appropriate way."
The class then brainstormed ways to raise money and landed on turning in cans and bottles.
"They're super excited to give their donation today and they feel like they've been able to do something to make a difference."