Students who take part in IWA's Leading with Service class are encouraged to find a problem that breaks their hearts — and then devise a solution for it. For Lauren Richards '22 Mary Uyenco '22 and Kalee Peters '22, that problem was animals in shelters.
"Houston alone houses thousands of homeless animals in shelters alone," explained Lauren, "while many more wander the streets looking for their next meal. This hit our group close to home because we have a combined four pets among us."
Their solution is Santa Paws, an incentive they created to raise funds for Friends for Life, a Heights-based animal shelter.
The students designed their fundraiser so donors could sponsor an individual animal at Friends for Life, or give to the organization overall. They created a Go Fund Me website, as well as a Google doc that lists gifts for donors at different giving levels. Those who give to their cause can receive cookies, a cocoa bomb and more. Their goal is to raise $500. Donors are asked to fill out the Google doc first, before visiting the group's Go Fund Me.
The group worked together to share responsibilities for the fundraiser. Kalee came up with the group's name and helped create the model for their fundraising plans. Mary did the initial outreach to Friends for Life and has run point on communicating with organization, as well as designing the Google forms. Lauren created the Go Fund Me campaign along with contributing to the incentives idea.
"While the holidays are an amazing time, with it comes traffic, which can increase animals being hit, as well as lower temperatures which can take a toll on a helpless animal," said Lauren. "We wanted to make sure no animal was left behind."
Their sentiments are shared by fellow classmates Elyse Sheller '23, Rachel Sanchez '23 and Auburn Thomas '22.They created Donate to Dogs for their Leading with Service project, which is launched an online fundraiser for Friends for Life. While Santa Paws gives donors the option to sponsor an individual animal, Donate to Dogs collects pet supplies for the non-profit.
"We're asking that the supplies ordered be brought into school and then we will transport them at a later date," said Auburn. "All donations benefit the dogs and cats at Friends for Life. Especially during the holiday season, we want to help out the shelter to house more homeless dogs and cats."
The students have promoted their efforts among family and friends, and with publication in IWA's "Weekly Word" e-newsletter. They are optimistic their efforts will help Friends for Life.