Come on kids! Let’s make 2013 a great year for the animals!

by Suzanne K. Gassner

Do your resolutions include making the world a kinder place for all living creatures? If so, invite the kids to help. For the kids in your home, in your neighborhood or the kid in you, 2013 holds lots of possibilities when it comes to making a difference for animals. All it takes is deciding what you want to do, making a plan and then carrying it out. OK kids… here we go!

I’m a student. How can I help animals while I’m in school?

Prepare a report or speech for your class about the pet overpopulation problem or about responsible pet care. Check out websites for animal welfare/rights groups and choose a topic that is meaningful to you. Maybe the issue of wearing fur or using animals in the entertainment or fighting industry triggers your concern. There are as many varied topics as there are animals.

If you volunteer to help younger students with reading, read a story about people helping animals and discuss what a difference we all make on a daily basis. Help them understand that any action can be a conscious decision to be kind and respectful.

Do science projects that do not harm animals. It’s best to observe wild animals in their natural habitats. They are so much more interesting.

Does your class have a woodworking shop? Make doghouses for dogs that have improper shelter or no shelter at all. Bring them to the Humane Society of Missouri and we will give them to dogs in need. (contact us for suggested building plans)

How can I raise money for the animals?

There is always a need for supplies and the money you raise could be used for food, toys, beds and more for shelter animals. Be sure to let people know the money goes to help the animals.

Get a group of friends together and hold a garage or yard sale. Advertise your event, letting people know the time, place and date. (What a great way to clear some clutter and recycle!)

Look for jobs you can do to raise money, such as raking leaves, washing windows, collecting cans for recycling, walking dogs or taking care of a neighbor’s pet.

Sell something that you’ve made. You could create homemade cards from recycled paper, have a lemonade stand or prepare goodies for a bake sale.

Put on a special event like a student art show, a play, a backyard carnival — and invite friends and neighbors. (This is a great place to sell those baked goods too!)

How can I spread the word about kindness to animals?

Whatever your age, you can share your message about caring for animals. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper (the Healthy Planet!) about an animal issue that’s important to you. In the letter, try to be brief and focus on the facts rather than your emotions.

Create a play, picture book or puppet show for younger kids that will teach kindness to animals.

Make posters about being kind to animals, adopting animals from shelters or an animal issue that you care about. Ask permission to put them up in school, in stores, small business or on community bulletin boards.

How can I help animals in my neighborhood?

To help wild animals, build bird or bat houses, or put out water and feeders for the birds. Remember that once you begin feeding birds they will become dependent on you. It is a commitment!

Organize a neighborhood cleanup to pick up trash, litter, fishing line and other things that can hurt animals. Remember, animals go barefoot!

If you know an elderly person or someone who’s sick and has a pet, offer to help feed, walk, play with or clean up after the pet.

Be a role model. Take good care of your own pet. Walk your dog. Scoop the poop. Clean the kitty litter. Fill the bowl with fresh water. Pet your pet!

Whatever you decide to do, 2013 can be the year to put your love and concern for animals into action. You’ll feel good about all you are doing to make the world a better place — for people and animals. YOU can make a difference!

Suzanne Gassner is the Director of Education for the Humane Society of Missouri. Visit their website at www.hsmo.org. to see the amazing animals available for adoption.