Pajama-clad money counters Mary Green (from left), Sally King, Lindsey Phillips and Jessica Hancock separate and count donations for Columbia County Animal Care and Control. Pupils who donated money or pet food could break the dress code and wear their pajamas to school.
Photo by Jonathan ErnstIn her pink Piglet slippers and purple-plaid pajama pants, Lakeside Middle School eighth-grader Olivia Davis looked more like she was ready to go to bed than to school.
Her attire was in definite violation of the school's dress code. But she wasn't arrested by the fashion police. Olivia was helping to raise money for a good cause.
Pupils at Lakeside Middle School on Friday bought the privilege of wearing bedclothes by donating pet food and money to the Columbia County Animal Shelter.
"I don't think it's right to put down a bunch of dogs every year. It's just sad," Olivia said.
The fund-raiser was the idea of eighth-grader Lindsey Phillips.
"I've always loved animals and always had the thought of helping animals," said Lindsey, who has a 5-month-old Great Dane puppy and a 2-month-old kitten that was rescued by a friend after it was abandoned near the lake. "When Ms. Dumas (school Principal Felicia Dumas) said something about doing a community service project, I thought maybe this is an opportunity for me to help some of the animals."
Before she would agree to the idea, however, Dumas sent Lindsey out to do some research on what the shelter might need. What Lindsey found shocked her, she said - the fact that around 20,000 animals in the CSRA are euthanized every year.
"They told me they needed everything, but it's really hard to give them everything," Lindsey said.
Lakeside Middle eighth-grader Lindsey Phillips takes
delivery of a donation of puppy food during a drive she organized for Columbia County Animal Care and Control.
Photo by Jonathan Ernst
Dumas said the school regularly has fund-raisers for such causes as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, because the pupils know people who either have died from or are struggling with these diseases. Last year they raised money for Virginia's Playground, which was built in downtown Augusta to accommodate adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs. They are projects the children can relate to, Dumas said.
"Middle-school students are very in tune with their own emotions. It's a very inward sort of time: what do I need, what do I want," Dumas said. "We want them to focus on the community. We feel if they are focused more on outside problems, then those they have personally won't be so tremendous and they can put them into perspective."
By the time the first bell rang Friday morning, Lindsey and her friends had collected $540 and 580 pounds of pet food.
"I just emptied my piggy bank into a bag and my sister did, too," said Kim McCracken, who was dressed in yellow pajama pants and fluffy angel slippers. "Everybody enjoys pajama-pants day because they are really comfortable, but what's really important is that it's getting kids to raise money for the animals."
Lindsey, the daughter of Walter and Kim Majors and David Phillips, said she always will love animals, but it is unlikely she will become a veterinarian when she grows up.
"As much as I love animals, the thought of sticking one with a needle is just terrible," she said.
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