Crook County students donate funds, supplies to Humane Society of the Ochocos

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF KAREN JOHNSON - Students from Crook County Middle School teachers Cathy Brock's and Tina Dunaway's classes were among those collecting funds to help out the Humane Society of the Ochocos.

This Christmas season will be brighter for the critters at the Humane Society of the Ochocos, thanks to the efforts of students throughout the Crook County School District.
   Crook County High School Work Crew Leader Karen Johnson sent out an e-mail to every school in the district, asking for their help in providing money to help the shelter animals. She bought boxes at Bi-Mart "and I put signs on them, stating `Ochoco Humane Society wish list'."
   "We started it right after Thanksgiving - is when I put out the first e-mail and we finished it today," the supervisor said on Dec. 20.
   In all, students from throughout the district helped out, especially at CCHS, Crook County Middle School, Cecil Sly Elementary and Ochoco Elementary.
   "And we put them in the schools in town," Johnson said. "We got quite a bit of participation. Janet Wilson's class at Ochoco - they always donate $25 for us to go shopping."
   CCHS work crew students are then able to buy supplies for the shelter.
   She e-mails elementary classrooms photos of the animals they will help through their contributions, helping provide a connection between the students and animals.
   "And then we just tell them a little bit about what happens at the shelter when we go in," she said. "The classes that really responded were Janet Wilson's at Ochoco and Mrs. (Brooke) Highsmith's class at Cecil Sly."
   Johnson said Highsmith's students had to do chores at home and bring in their chore money.
   "Then they split that money between the Tree of Joy and the Humane Society," Johnson said.
   Additionally, five different classes at Crook County Middle School competed to see which class could bring in the most shelter supplies.
   Johnson and her students went shopping for supplies, using the $336 collected by students to help out the animals.
   She said many people may buy such items as cat and dog food, "but the things that we bought for them were kitty litter, bleach, soap - the things that people don't realize are critical for the shelter to operate."
   Johnson said Highsmith's daughter teaches at a Redmond school and once she heard of the project, she wanted to try it at the school.
   The crew supervisor explained the background to this year's project.
   "In years past, my crew used to work at the Humane Society once a week," she said, adding that a Crossroads program based at Ochoco and the Mount Bachelor Academy each took youth there for community projects. Over time, Johnson's students took on different efforts in the community. But she said when she worked there, she could see some "real needs." Crossroads is a behavior program for students who are not operating well in a normal classroom setting.
   "So we still wanted to have a connection with the Humane Society," Johnson said.
   "I think it was an outstanding effort by everyone," she said, adding that people who did not have time to go shopping for the materials said "we'll give you the money to go do it for us."
   CCHS students also learned several lessons from the project.
   For example, they bought 63 bags of cat litter.
   "They were calling me with their cell phones," she said. "'This is this much money. This is this much money.'"
   They asked her which product was more of a bargain to buy and Johnson said they learned important skills in budgeting as a result.
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