It’s not every day that two dogs attend chapel.  But, when they are the recipients of $1,000 it only makes sense that they would be invited.  

During March, while many were focused on their basketball bracket, the Animal Club and the students at Valley Lutheran High School were following their alternate brackets: March Madness – Shelter Style.  Created as a brainstorm by members Anthony Wojtowicz and Andrew Perkins the group used an animal adoption advocacy site to create a bracket that featured cats and dogs in the care of the Saginaw County Animal Care and Control.

Club members’ eyes had recently been opened to their need for support.  While Animal Care and Control receives government funding, they also rely on donations to help stay stocked with blankets, food, toys, and treats.  “So much of what they do comes out of donations.  And I realized how much extra that shelters do for animals, they give them blankets and stuff to help comfort them,” Anthony said.  “And different surgeries are expensive for them,” Andrew shared.  Fellow Animal Club member Parker Ritchey reflected, “none of it is self-promoting, all of it is trying to make the animals comfortable while they’re there.”

And so the bracket was created.  For $1 students could create their own brackets predicting which animal would ‘win’.  

So how did animals advance?  Each week student ‘family groups’ (smaller groups within the student body) contributed funds in support of a particular animal.  The animal that received the most funds advanced in the bracket.  

After three short weeks an impressive $1000 had been raised to support animal care and adoptions through Animal Care and Control.

“I didn’t know it would turn out this well,” Andrew admitted.  When asked why it might have, he hypothesized, “[There was] a little bit of competition and [students] felt attached to that.  And [they felt] bad that the animals were treated so badly and needed support.”

Officer Bonnie Kanicki, Director of the Saginaw County Animal Care and Control, was invited to Valley Lutheran to accept the gift. She was accompanied by Officer Desi, Officer Abbe, and shelter residents Melula and Pluto.

Kanicki spoke to the student body after the check presentation.  “It is amazing the outpouring of love that we feel from you all right now.  It’s amazing the heart that God put in all of you to have compassion and to care for these animals,” she said.  

“This money will go toward the direct care and wellbeing of our animals.  [It] will help us toward the care of getting them surgeries, to get them up-to-date on their vaccinations, [to] get blankets and toys and food and medicine, and then we ultimately will get them into our adoption program.  So your heart of compassion and your willingness to get involved and serve is a direct reflection on the care that we can give the animals that you see in front of [you].”

Animal Club faculty advisor Dr. Lisa Meyers commented,  “What a fantastic conclusion to this event!  From the club members who helped organize and promote the activity to the family groups who raised money to support their dog or cat in the bracket, we saw a ton of positive participation by students born out of their huge love for animals. We thank SCACC for all their work in our community and we look forward to developing a partnership with them where our students can continue to support their important work.”