LAKEWOOD RANCH — Six-year-old Sophie Preston plopped down in a blue plastic chair, clutching a picture of Braden, a mixed-breed dog at the Manatee County Humane Society.
“She was walking on the street on New Year’s Eve, and someone found her,” Sophie said. “I think she’s really cute. She’s only 3.”
Braden is extra special to Sophie, a dog-lover who adopted her dog, Maggie, from the shelter. But she’s also special to children such as 5-year-old Andrew Hennesy, who normally are afraid of dogs.
Because, virtually speaking, Braden is theirs.
Sharon Frank, owner of Primrose School at Lakewood Ranch Town Center, handpicked 10 dogs and cats from the Humane Society — one for each classroom — to be “virtually” adopted during the preschool’s Helping Hands event, Precious Pets.
For the entire month of July, a picture and biography of each class’s adopted pet will be taped to the window of the classroom door. Children will be spending time each day learning about their assigned pet and how to care for it, as well as collecting dog food, treats and other items to donate to the Manatee County Humane Society.
Although Primrose hosts Precious Pets each year, it is the first time students have had an animal to represent the charity, Frank said.
“I think that it brings a stronger connection between the children and the cause,” she said. “It gives them a very, very clear connection to what we are doing. And it’s exciting for them. They have a whole month to talk about this animal.”
Decorated boxes line the hallways of the preschool waiting to be filled with dog food and other items needed by the shelter because of an increase in abandoned animals.
“We’re hoping that one of the families ends up going to the Humane Society and eventually adopts one of the pets,” Frank added.
The event is part of Helping Hands, a part of Primrose’s character development program that teaches children about reaching out to the community.
And Frank hopes to get the community involved in the project, as well. While Primrose parents traditionally provide donations for the Precious Pets event, the community is welcome to participate by donating items.
“We really want to not just make this a school event, but a community event,” Frank said. “We will take all the help we can get.”
Representatives of the Manatee County Humane Society and Manatee County Commissioner Donna Hayes are scheduled to pick up donations from the school July 31.
Primrose is located at 9127 Town Center Parkway, just behind San Marco Plaza. For more information, contact the school at 373-6363.
Contact Pam McTeer at email@example.com.
• Dry dog and cat food
• Non-clumping litter
• Cat treats and catnip
• Dog treats
• Kongs and other cat/dog toys
• Used blankets, towels, and area rugs
• Paper towels, toilet paper, paper cups
• Heavy duty garbage bags
• Bottles and nipples made for baby kittens and puppies
• Gift cards for gas, office supplies, pet stores, Wal-Mart, etc.
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