HANNIBAL, Mo. -- The Hannibal High School Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, which has about 50 student members, launched a schoolwide initiative in November to collect items and money for U.S. Armed Forces dogs and their handlers working in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The group took a unique approach to collecting donations by offering various activities during school lunch hours the week of Nov. 27. Each day had a different activity, including Christmas card signing, a quantity-guessing contest, pin the bone on the dog game and an eating contest.
"The hundreds of dogs overseas really need supplies. In the Middle East, they are exposed to harsh climates and rugged terrain," Hannibal FCCLA advisor Linda Stinson said. "The rocks and hot sand hurt their paws, and the blowing sand stings their eyes. Basic supplies and treats are hard to get there."
The idea for the service project developed when some FCCLA members wanted to aid military members while others wanted to help animals, Stinson added. The group combined both interests into helping military K-9 units.
Common items the dogs need are collapsible nylon water bowls, boots, flea and tick treatments, antibiotic creams, treats, toys and more.
"After researching more information about what these dogs need, you realize how much you need to respect them," junior FCCLA member Ruby Roisum said. "Then we thought of fun ways to encourage students to donate to help."
During November, for every student who donated an item or at least $2, the FCCLA students gave them a homemade Christmas cookie. Those who filled a box with items or collected postage for shipping a box, costing about $17, received hot chocolate with marshmallows to go with the cookie.
"We were expecting like four or five dogs, but because the need for supplies is so great, they asked us if we'd sponsor 18. Since we had such a large group, we asked the school to get involved," Stinson said. "Various homerooms and clubs have contributed, and students have even sought donations outside of school to make this successful."
By the end of Friday, FCCLA students expected to have collected donations worth about $500 and have about 20 boxes filled with items to ship overseas.
"This has been a fun project to do, and we've had great support," junior FCCLA member Jessica Stinson said.