Saturday, December 21, 2013

Week 16: A visit from Herc and Donation Drop-Off (Round 1)!!

What an incredible week for Project R.E.A.C.H. students!

On Monday, December 16, we had two AMAZING guests, Ms. Terry and Hercules, who are both animal advocates who stand up to animal cruelty.

They even have their own Facebook page:

 If you don't know Hercules' story, Herc was the victim of abuse and cruelty, nearly starved to death, kept in inhumane conditions, and was injured by his previous owner. He was found in a basement in Deptford township, NJ, weighing a mere 38 pounds.

Herc's recovery is ongoing, over a year later, but thanks to the caring folks at NJSPCA, Gloucester County Animal shelter, the staff at Delaware Valley Animal Hospital, and more importantly, the tender loving care of his adoptive mom, Ms. Terry, Hercules is playful, loving, and has a wonderful life ahead of him. Although he is timid and untrusting of humans when he first meets them (due to the way he was treated by unkind humans), Hercules loves everyone and once he knows you won't hurt him, you've found yourself a new best friend! Now, Hercules attends events and visits schools to tell his story and to spread awareness about animals in need and the importance of standing up to animal cruelty.

To prepare for the arrival of our special guests, the students designed questions that could be asked after Ms. Terry's presentation. There was a lot of interest in Herc's "favorite" things, his costumes (he is a very well dressed furry family member) :), and other information about adoption and the conditions he had to face. Ms. Terry then brought Hercules around to meet all of the R.E.A.C.H.ers. Ms. Terry explained that we were all helping Hercules by meeting him, petting him, and caring for him, because that socialization helps with his recovery and to help him understand that not all humans are untrustworthy and mean-hearted.

It was awesome to be able for the students to meet Ms. Terry, who is an amazing human being and a fantastic role model, as well as a wonderful mom to Hercules. She reminded us that we all can help animals in need and it doesn't matter how old you are-we can all help! :)

I can't thank Ms. Terry and Hercules enough for taking time to visit Daretown School and share their story with Project R.E.A.C.H. It was an awesome experience and we were sad to see them go!

Additionally, this week wrapped up our "Bow Wow and Meow Holiday Giving Drive," as well as our "Warm and Fuzzy Towel and Blanket Drive." All I can say is-WOW! We are so very thankful for all of the kind-hearted people who donated to our drive to benefit animals in need!! Mr. Sears and I dropped off R.E.A.C.H.'s first set of donations to Salem County Humane Society on Friday, December 20th.
Leashes, collars, cleaning supplies, food, treats, and other donations were piled up in our classroom!! What an amazing feeling!!
Here's another angle to check out the massive amount of donations received....and that wasn't everything! 
Here was a poster the students made and signed to give to the Salem County Humane Society.
The donations were so very appreciated and will certainly be put to great use at the Salem County Humane Society. :)

Over the next few days, I will be taking the remainder of the donations to other local shelters and will post about them as well!! :) I have to say, I am brought to tears by the kindness and compassion exhibited by the many donors and R.E.A.C.H. supporters, all of whom believe so deeply in the work my students are doing. The spirit of giving is something so uplifting and empowering and I thank each and everyone of you for providing my students with the opportunity to experience it.

I thank each and every one of you for believing that together, we can all make a difference.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week 14 and 15: Backdrops, Donations, and Holiday Cheer!

Week 14's Project R.E.A.C.H. focus was determining elements that the students wanted to go into the backdrop that we were asked to create to help Salem County Humane Society. Students scoured the internet for inspiration and images that could be used to design the backdrop. Once we all agreed on the perfect combination of elements, several students from different groups volunteered to trace the designs off of the Promethean Board, including Brett and Laquan. Students from Group 4, including Eugene, Tyler, and Dee Dee outlined the pencil tracings in black marker so the drawings could be easily traced onto the white sheet that was being used for the backdrop. After that, the students taped the papers onto the floor using masking tape so the design could be traced in pencil to make it easy to stay in the lines when the students began painting in Week 15. Dee Dee's attention to detail and steady hand were very useful when it came to tracing onto the sheet! :)

The sketch of the designed was traced on paper using the Promethean Board, and then was outlined in black marker and was taped on the floor. We put the sheet over top of the paper and traced it in pencil. This collage was designed by Dee Dee.

Week 15 was full of crazy winter weather. Hopefully you all were warm and safe where ever the week took you.  This week, Project R.E.A.C.H. students spent some time painting the backdrop. We had a great time and the students all took their painting very seriously.
The beginning stages of painting...and when we realized we didn't have enough of the green paint we wanted! Oops! :)

Students from each group took turns painting and helped to improve the details included on the backdrop, including outlining different elements in black to make them "pop," adding googly eyes, cotton balls (for hats), and ribbons. Our only trouble was finding a few extra bottles of green paint for our tree, but thankfully Mr. Sears came to the rescue! :)

I am very proud of each and every one of the students, who all worked so very hard (on top of all their other class work) to make this become a reality. I'm sure that this backdrop will be one that the Salem County Humane Society will treasure for many years to come. :)

I also want to note that during Week 14, we also received a number of generous donations from our supporters, including Ms. Carty, who donated kitty food, towels, and other awesome things for animals in need! During Week 15, Finally Home Farm, a wonderful rescue based in Williamstown, New Jersey, donated cases and cases and cases of wet dog food for us to use as donations. They have a Facebook page, too.  Please check them out and give them a "like," as well as any support you can give.

We are so thankful.  Thank you so much to each and every person who have given so selflessly to support our "Bow Wow and Meow Holiday Giving Drive" and our "Warm and Fuzzy Towel and Blanket Drive." Don't forget: we are accepting donations until next Friday, December 20, 2013! :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 13 Wrap Up and Many Thanks to be Given! :)

        Even though it was a short week, Week 13 was full of fun and activities to give back to animals in our community. As we were continuing to work on different fundraising activities and advertising for our "Bow-Wow and Meow Holiday Giving Drive" as well as our "Warm and Fuzzy Towel and Blanket" Drive, we also took on another great project to benefit the Salem County Humane Society: designing a backdrop for the Humane Society's upcoming Pictures with Santa fundraiser. We decided on the elements to include in the backdrop from brainstorming and picture searching using the internet. We have sketched the drawing out using our Promethean Board, large white paper, pencils, and black marker. It will help us to transfer the image onto the fabric we are using for the design before we paint it. We will post pictures as we near completion of the backdrop! :)
       Also,  I had the pleasure on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 of meeting with the Board of Education members of the Salem County Special Services School District to share with them the awesome progress that we've been making with Project R.E.A.C.H. How exciting! 
       On behalf of my students and I, we all hope that you had a joyful and relaxing holiday. Although it is past Thanksgiving, I believe that every day we should give thanks to the wonderful people in our lives. I want to take some time to thank each and every one of our supporters who have worked so hard to spread the word about what we are doing, to help us with supplies and donations, and who are such amazing people. I can not say thank you enough for the overwhelming amount of support for this initiative, for my students, and for animals in need. It's hard to believe that less than 6 months ago, Project R.E.A.C.H. was born. Thank YOU all for believing in us. :)

       Also, just a reminder that we will be collecting donations to benefit animals in need until Friday, December 20th! If you are out and about shopping, or are simply doing some holiday cleaning, please consider making a donation to help our furry friends!