By Robert Wheary, Staff Writer • firstname.lastname@example.org
WILLIAMSTOWN — Students at Williams Valley Elementary School recently got the chance to help keep some four-legged friends safe from the winter weather with a craft project.
Fifth and sixth-grade students, part of the 21st Century Learning program at the school, teamed up with Paws for a Cause to construct some feral cat shelters that volunteers will be using.
The materials they used were simple — styrofoam, hay, and large plastic storage bins — but according to Angie Bixler, the kids are learning much more than a craft project.
“We are teaching them how to treat animals,” Bixler said. “These shelters can provide comfort and safety for about 70 feral cats that will be cared for by our volunteers. Those volunteers will also provide food for the cats.”
Bixler said that is the first of two projects that the program will provide for animals this school year, the other being a food drive for the local SPCA shelter.
“We are hoping that this work inspires a Paws for the Cause Jr. organization,” Bixler said.
The students, some of them doing this for the second year, took to the construction easily. After cutting a hole in the plastic totes earlier, the students measured the styrofoam to surround the inside of the box then placed the hay inside the box for a cozy bed for the stray felines.
Teacher Mandi Jobe said there were about 40-45 students in the program anxious to undertake this project and helped bridge one gap to between him and animals.
“The first day that Angie came to the school to talk with the kids about the project, she brought her two dogs with, and they are big dogs. The one boy was so afraid he wouldn’t go near them,” Jobe said. “He told me after they left, that he wanted to help, but he was afraid of the dogs. Eventually, he learned to like them and is helping out today.”
The 21st Century Learning program is an afterschool program that is designed to make learning fun, Jobe said.
“We get to do great activities like this, do some STEM projects, and the kids are really enjoying themselves,” the teacher said.
With all these shelters made, Bixler said that many feral and stray cats will be having some nice places to stay for the upcoming winter.
“I’ll put them on my porch and make a Facebook post about them being ready, and people will just come and get them and put them to good use,” Bixler said.