The Life Skills class from Emporia High School made a special delivery earlier this week.

Students from the class — with help from EHS faculty and staff members — delivered bags of homemade toys and treats for the dogs at the Emporia Animal Shelter who are still waiting on their forever homes this Christmas.

“We do a weekly current event and one week we talked about Operation Santa Paws,” EHS Adaptive Special Education Teacher Michele Wells said. “We talked about different ways to donate to the animal shelter. We always try to come up with ways to reinforce our lessons.”

From there, she contacted EHS Library Media Specialist Dana Cole for suggestions on how to further integrate the lesson into the real world. They read a book called “Can I Be Your Pet” about a shelter dog. At the end, she said it was obvious how much the students connected with the story. They discussed ways they could help the local animal shelter and decided to make gift bags for the dogs.

Wells added that most of them have pets, but it was good for them to see that not all animals have forever homes and are in need of help.

“They love, love, loved helping the animals and were super excited to come here today,” Cole said. “They have such big hearts. That’s my favorite part.”

The five students in the class from age 14 - 21 got to work on making toys for the dogs. They added some treats and were ready to make their delivery. Wells said the class emphasizes life skills such as vocational needs, cooking, laundry and cleaning along with the usual academic work.

“Any donation that we can get is fantastic,” Emporia Animal Shelter Manager Peggy Perez said. “Nothing is too large or too small. We have a lot of great donors and the animals really appreciate it and the extra attention they get when the deliveries come in.”

Perez added that right now the shelter is “sitting well” with dogs as several were recently sent to Wayside Waifs, a large, no-kill shelter in Kansas City. They do, however, have some dogs and a lot of cats available for adoption. To learn more or to fill out an application, visit the shelter from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday, call 620-340-6345 or visit the shelter’s Facebook page.

That appreciation is something Wells said is rewarding for her students.

“For me, I’ve done this for ever and the best thing is to see the excitement in their eyes when they can help someone or, in this case, the animals,” she said. “That’s key for these kids. It means a lot for them to know they are needed and they are appreciated.”

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