Originally published August 7, 2015
RedRover is renowned for being a “full-circle” organization. We help animals in crisis through our RedRover Responders and RedRover Relief programs — but we also work to prevent animal suffering before it begins by helping children develop empathy toward animals through our RedRover Readers program. We recently had the opportunity to put our full-circle model in action when we were invited to visit a very special 4th grade class at Westmore Oaks Elementary in West Sacramento, California.
Anika Swisher-shukuya’s students are going to change the world someday.
Throughout the school year, Anika has been teaching her students that they have the power to make a difference in the world. Anika encouraged her kids to think about issues in the world that meant something to them and to do something that would make a change. Anika’s classroom wrote letters to the Chinese government asking to put an end to the dog meat trade, they wrote letters to the California Highway Patrol asking to improve traffic conditions, and they sold lollipops to raise money to donate to a charity where their funds would make a difference…and they selected RedRover.
When Anika first learned about the RedRover Readers program this winter, she felt the program’s goal of promoting kindness, compassion and empathy toward all living beings in our nation’s children was a perfect fit for her classroom. But she also wanted to show her kids that the money they raised would make a direct impact. Anika recently contacted RedRover to inquire about helping animals in immediate need, and she discovered RedRover’s On-Call Angel program.
Through the On-Call Angel program, caring people commit to a donation to “sponsor” an individual animal who needs emergency veterinary care to treat a life-threatening injury. They donate a minimum of $150 twice a year or $250 once a year. We match these generous donors with an animal in need. These donors receive information on the animal’s condition, a photo of the animal, and later, an update from the family on the animal’s recovery.
The RedRover Readers and the On-Call Angel programs were both exactly what Anika had in mind for her class! At Anika’s invitation, RedRover Education Manager Karly Noel and Erin Bialecki, Membership and Development Coordinator, visited the 4th grade class. They were prepared and excited to engage the children in a full-circle spectrum of animal welfare!
The RedRover Readers program helps children practice empathy toward animals and people — a skill that will stay with them for the rest of their lives — and the On-Call Angel program enables the children to see firsthand how their care for animals and hard-earned donation can prevent animal suffering right now, in the moment.
Upon our arrival to the classroom, Anika’s children proudly presented their donation check to RedRover. Karly then launched into a spirited reading of the book Max Talks to Me, asking the children questions like, “Why might you listen to an animal?” and “What are the different ways an animal can communicate with people?” The children responded with insightful and compassionate answers that reflected their varied understanding of animals and animal behavior.
After the reading, each child received a photo of Toby, the adorable puppy whom they were helping, and a notecard printed with the details of their On-Call Angel case. The children were tasked with making a “get well soon” card for Toby and in a flurry of paper, markers and scissors, 29 cards were quickly completed and ready to be delivered to Toby and his family.
Anika was so pleased and the children were so proud of the difference they had made in Toby’s life that they asked if they could do this again next year. We responded with a resounding, “yes!”