Oak Street Elementary School students gather around Adirondack Humane Society Manager Lil Cassidy for a chance to pet one of the cats she brought in.
Johnny, Gideon and Geronimo crept around the edges of the cafeteria, sniffing at tables and chairs and stopping for an occasional scratch behind the ears or under the chin.
A chorus of grinning fourth graders called their names, eager for a chance to pet the animals.
In roughly a week from the day the animals visited Oak Street Elementary School, the students would be holding an ice cream social to raise money for the Adirondack Humane Society.
“I love the ability for them to raise such a large amount of money and then give it away,” said Amanda Madore, a fourth grade teacher at Oak Street Elementary School. “This gives them motivation to help animals.”
At Oak Street Elementary School, all fourth graders are involved in a project that raises money for the Adirondack Humane Society. On Thursday, March 8, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., students will hold a ice cream social at Oak Street School.
It is open to anyone in the community and the cost is $1 for two scoops and .10 cents per topping. The event will also feature a 50/50 raffle, while Bill McBride donated a car detailing and there will be a drawing for a ice cream basket and Stewart’s gift card.
The students will run the event, taking orders, serving and making change.
Stewart’s is donating the ice cream.
“We want to teach the kids how they can help locally in their community,” said Wendy Parker, another fourth grade teacher at Oak Street Elementary School. “I think they get a feeling os self worth knowing they are helping the animals and get a feeling of pride. Some take it to the next step and become volunteer dog walkers.”
Fourth Grader Josh Bleaux is eager to help the Humane Society.
“They have so many animals and need stuff to help them.”
He was smiling when Lil Cassidy, manager of the Adirondack Humane Society, visited the school Feb. 29.
She told students that the shelter currently has 135 cats and 10 dogs. Last year when she visited, there were 195 cats, though the shelter is only built to hold 100.
The animals are excited when employees arrive each morning, though there is a lot of cleaning to be done and it all comes at a high cost.
Last year, Oak Street students raised $800 for the shelter, and the money was used to assist people in the community who couldn’t afford to get their cats spayed and neutered.
In addition to cleaning, shelter employees take care of animals medically, checking for ear mites and treating for fleas.
“All of our kittens and cats are pretty well mannered,” Cassidy said.
There are many reasons cats end up at the shelter, though most often it is because people move and can’t find a place that takes animals.
“A lot of landlords don’t want to have pets, so these people don’t have a choice,” Cassidy said.
The shelter has been around 14 years and adopted out more than 4,500 animals, taking in 465 last year.
Cassidy shared with students a story about a unwanted dog who was kicked at his home by visitors. The dog is at the shelter now and has come a long way but still has trust issues.
“When strangers come in she bounces off the walls,” Cassidy said. “She needs the right match, because she had such a rough start.”
Cassidy thought about appropriate matches that day when she was selecting animals to bring to the school.
“I almost brought in a dog today, but his tail is a lethal weapon.”
The students laughed, but their eyes grew even wider when Cassidy released the cats.
Many students asked Cassidy questions and some shared stories about their own animals and families, such as one girl whose grandmother is obsessed with cats and another who had “tons” of dogs when she was little.
The students were excited about the opportunity to help the shelter.
“It is nice to know the animals will be safe and have a better home than they did before,” said Paige Murray.
“We are helping the Humane Society with what they are doing to help all the animals get a better home than they used to have,” said Riley Savastano.