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    Friday, June 21, 2024

    Waterford High student donates 1,200 items to animal shelters

    Waterford High School junior Julia Cameron, right, and classmates from the capstone seminar class at Waterford High School deliver boxes of donated pet items Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, to the Connecticut Humane Society's facility in Quaker Hill. Cameron's capstone project for the class included collecting donations of supplies for the shelter. She was joined by her classmates to deliver the donations and learn more about the shelter. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Waterford — Ten high school students spilled out of a school bus Thursday morning with boxes and bags of animal care products, placing them in the lobby of the Connecticut Humane Society in Quaker Hill.

    The students were there to help deliver donations raised by their classmate Julia Cameron and receive a tour of the comprehensive animal welfare organization.

    Cameron, a junior at Waterford High School, collected nearly 1,200 items to donate evenly between the Connecticut Humane Society and the Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Shelter as part of her required Capstone project.

    She said she chose to do this project because she really likes animals. Years ago, for her 10th birthday, she said instead of gifts she asked her friends for donations to give to the local animal shelter.

    Brett Arnold, Cameron's teacher, said the Capstone project is part of a new interactive program and class for juniors and seniors at the school. Nationally recognized digital learning organization Skills21 worked with the school district to design the program that fulfills state-level, mastery-based graduation requirements.

    "It's a student-driven project," Arnold said. "They can use their interests and apply it to the needs in society."

    He said other students in the class have taken on initiatives like building a bench and partaking daily in the school's Explorers program for students with disabilities, doing arts and crafts.

    Arnold was impressed by how quickly and abundantly Cameron raised donations on her own. "I couldn't believe it," he said.

    Cameron began to formulate the goals of her project in September and began collecting donations on Nov. 1. 

    With permission, she placed flyers and donation boxes at the high school, Oswegatchie Elementary School and Clark Lane Middle School. She also conducted social media campaigns and wrote letters to local pet stores. She said she received donations from Petsmart and Pet Supplies "Plus."

    Cameron said it was a challenge, but a little more than a month after she started, she realized she had well over 1,000 items.

    Among the donations were dog and cat food, toys, collars, leashes and treats. There were even items for small animals, such as birds and rabbits, that Cameron said often get forgotten in donations.

    Ashley Marshall, the community outreach manager for the Connecticut Humane Society's facility in Waterford, led the students on a tour of the site. She said Cameron's donations would go to different sources.

    Donated food items are placed in the center's food pantry for people and animals as part of their community assistance program. Marshall said surplus items would be sent to local partners and items like litter boxes and toys would be used by the animals at the shelter.

    Marshall said she often gets emails from students like Cameron and the organization is always willing to assist them with their efforts and offer them a tour of the shelter afterward.

    "It's lovely to see younger people getting involved with helping pets in need," Marshall said.

    "She has spent hours on the project, decorating, collecting, going from store to store," said Cameron's mother, Jody Smith. "She was definitely passionate about this project and has been very independent."

    Smith said she is very impressed and proud of her daughter's work.

    "This was not benefiting me at all," Cameron said. "I just wanted to do something for animals, since I've always loved them."

    j.vazquez@theday.com

    A cat in one of the cat condos at the Connecticut Humane Society's facility in Quaker Hill watches as Ashley Marshall, community outreach manager, gives a tour of the facility to Waterford High School Capstone Seminar Class students Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, after they dropped off donations for the shelter. Junior Julia Cameron's capstone project for the class included collecting donations of supplies for the shelter. She was joined by her classmates to deliver the donations and learn more about the shelter. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Shadow, right, barks and jumps as Connecticut Humane Society Community Outreach Manager Ashely Marshall, center, gives a tour of the facility to Waterford High School Capstone Seminar Class students Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, after they dropped off donations for the shelter. Junior Julia Cameron's capstone project for the class included collecting donations of supplies for the shelter. She was joined by her classmates to deliver the donations and learn more about the shelter. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Waterford High School junior Julia Cameron and classmates from the Capstone seminar class at Waterford High School on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, carry boxes of donated pet items into the Connecticut Humane Society's facility in Quaker Hill. Cameron's Capstone project for the class included collecting donations of supplies for the shelter. She was joined by her classmates to deliver the donations and learn more about the shelter. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Connecticut Humane Society Community Outreach Manager Ashley Marshall, center, gives a tour of the facility to Waterford High School Capstone Seminar Class students Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, after they dropped off donations for the shelter. Junior Julia Cameron's Capstone project for the class included collecting donations of supplies for the shelter. She and her classmates delivered the donations and learned more about the shelter. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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