Thanks to the dedication of the students and staff at Hardin Park School — and some inspiration from The Great Kindness Challenge — tails across Watauga County are wagging a little easier this week.
As part of the nationwide effort to encourage kindness and community involvement, students at the school recently pooled their change and — over the course of a single week — raised $697.18 for the Watauga County Humane Society.
Spearheaded at Hardin Park by school counselor Claire Jensen, the Great Kindness Challenge is a program that provides opportunities for students to show small acts of kindness throughout their day. The program can act as a guide and checklist for some activities – small things like giving compliments, saying thank you, etc., but it also encourages counselors and students to create their own ways of spreading kindness.
Along with several other worthy projects – one that reached as far donating a shipment of hats to Haiti — Jensen and the Hardin Park Students kicked off an effort they called Pennies for Pups.
With the help of Hardin Park Beta Club members, collection boxes were distributed to classrooms across the school and, in a short stretch — pennies, quarters and dimes at a time — money started to pour in. Much more than Jensen expected.
“I hoped we’d be able to raise enough money to sponsor at least one animal – maybe two,” Jensen said. “But by the end of the week, it was becoming clear we’d be able to do much more than that. I wanted the kids to know that their leftover change can make a difference – that every little bit counts.”
The nearly $700 raised by Hardin Park students during Pennies for Pups was enough money to sponsor 10 animals, one for each grade level of classes that participated.
Watauga County Humane Society Executive Director Laurie Vierheller said she was pleased and very impressed with the student’s efforts to aid animals housed at the shelter.
“We are so grateful that these kids put together the effort they did to raise this money,” Vierheller said. “The donation will go to ensure our animals have the shelter, food, medical care, training and medication they need to be adoptable.”
To see Pennies for Pups in action for yourself, visit the Watauga County Humane Society’s website at wataugahumane.org. Animals sponsored by Hardin Park students are indicated on the homepage.