Washougal students bring holiday joy to shelter animals

Cape Horn-Skye Elementary first-graders make 'tie' blankets and toys for West Columbia Gorge Humane Society shelter animals

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Washougal first-graders Leon Fox (left) and Allie Purviance show off a toy they made for West Columbia Gorge Humane Society shelter animals at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School in Washougal in December 2021. (Contributed photo courtesy of the Washougal School District)

Washougal students create blankets, toys for animals

Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School first-graders recently participated in a holiday-inspired lesson that demonstrates the fun of giving, while practicing an important skill.

Each year, classes create “tie” blankets and toys for dogs and cats at the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society.

“At this time of year, it is easy for students to become consumed with the receiving of gifts,” teacher Nichol Yung said. “This service-learning project allows students the opportunity to give instead of receive. Children have a soft spot in their hearts for animals. Making blankets and toys for the homeless pets in our community not only shows them that no one is too little to be able to give in some way, but it also allows them to see how they can contribute to the well-being of society.”

The experience provided students a lesson in social-emotional learning around self-efficacy and social engagement.

“This Cape Horn Elementary blanket project means so much to our shelter animals,” West Columbia Gorge Humane Society volunteer and development coordinator Laura Kelly said. “Each cozy blanket the students made will provide a cat or dog with much needed comfort in a time of change. It’s almost as if each first-grader is giving the cat or dog a hug.”

Local Humane Society staff members visited the school on Friday, Dec. 17, and talked to students about how the Humane Society helps the community and introduced them to some of the pets in their facility.

“Even though the students weren’t able to see the dogs and cats this year, we hope they understand how much giving something so simple can make a big difference in a life,” Kelly said.

Hathaway gift store open for students

Hathaway Elementary School’s annual holiday gift store has reopened after a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gift store allows student shoppers to choose from a selection of donated items, including mugs, books, ornaments and toys.

The store opened for the first time in 2015 thanks to the efforts of Washougal resident and community volunteer Pam Clark, who attended Hathaway Elementary in the mid-1950s

“I love helping students have an opportunity to share in the giving season,” Clark said. “All of these items are collected throughout the year for this event, and some have been in storage for two years. It is wonderful to bring this experience back.”

Students shop at the store with “credit” received from exchanging “Pawsitive Slips,” which they earn by demonstrating positive behavior and characteristics.

“The holiday gift store helps all of our students learn and feel the importance and joy of giving by redeeming their ‘Pawsitive Slips,'” Hathaway Elementary principal Wendy Morrill stated in a news release. “It’s a win-win. Nearly half of our students at Hathaway are furthest from opportunity and are unable to buy and give gifts for family or friends during the holiday season. It is wonderful to provide this service for our students.”