CENTERBURG — When second-grader Jillian McDougal invited her friends to her 7th birthday party last year, she requested that, instead of presents for her, they bring presents for the dogs and cats sheltered at the Knox County Humane Society. The KCHS volunteers were delighted with the many gifts of food, toys, bowls and grooming utensils and put them to use immediately at the shelters.
This year, McDougal launched a fundraiser for her class at Centerburg Elementary that was quickly dubbed “Puppy Love” and embraced by the entire school. A competition between classes arose to raise the most money and gather the most gifts for KCHS.
On Friday, the final day of the fundraiser, McDougal’s class, taught by Brooke Miller, celebrated with a Valentine’s Day “Puppy Love” party. In a sunny room decorated in red and heart shapes, the students gobbled up cookies shaped like dog bones and paw-prints, cupcakes, frosted pretzels and doughnuts; and marveled over pens, coupons and stickers donated by the Purina and PetsMart companies. Gasps of awe and excitement were heard all over the room when Miller announced that one of the companies had even sent Post-It notes.
Nonetheless, the second-graders saved their all-out enthusiasm for Miller’s long-awaited announcement that their Puppy Love campaign had raised more than $950 for the humane society. The children hooted and cheered in celebration.
Student Parker Davis was proud that he helped raise money for KCHS.
“I really like dogs,” he said. “They’ll use the money to buy things for the animals.”
“I thought it was pretty nice to do this,” said Halle Moreland. “My mom and everybody else in my family likes to save animals, and I thought this would be really fun, too.”
McDougal said she was “shocked” at the amount of money the students, teachers and staff had donated.
“I think the teachers made their classes really excited about it,” she said. “Some of the kids really love animals. They really wanted to help, and this was their chance.”
How does she explain such a passion for critters?
“I was born with animals,” McDougal explained. “My parents always taught me how to be good to animals and how to take care of them. It’s so awesome to have animals in your life. Because animals are always excited to see you. Whether you’re happy or sad, they always make you feel better. To have a friend who’s an animal, you’ll always have a friend for life.”
Teacher Kathy Compton’s class raised the most money and will be rewarded with a pizza party; Kathy Noblit’s class brought in the most gifts and will celebrate with an ice cream party.