Steve Bergen, Mayfield Senior School, Pasadena, CaJanet Hale
Kindergarten teacher
Mayfield Junior School

Little Hands Helping Little Paws

In my position as a kindergarten teacher, I am privileged to watch the growth of my students in both heart and mind. Our integrated service learning project provides many opportunities to open their eyes and extend their arms with magical results.

Animals and young children seem to go hand and hand, so it was a natural choice to work with the Pasadena Humane Society for our service learning project.

It all started when we began a lesson on the letter “V.” Veterinarians help animals, and so many of our kindergartners want to do just that! The children started to learn about the needs of animals, not only about the daily care of food and exercise but also the importance of a forever home. A walking field trip to our local Pasadena Humane Society allowed each child to see and understand the vital role the Humane Society has in the community and collectively began to think of ways they could help.

After our visit, it was touching to hear the children’s heartwarming and sincere prayers each day asking that God take care of the animals at the shelter. The empathy they felt turned into action. They made 30 cat beds, which involved lots of knot tying. This task was hard for them, but they didn’t give up and kept encouraging each other by saying, “The cats need our help!” They also made 150 cat toys by stuffing newsprint into tiny socks and adding a sprinkle of catnip. And they baked dozens of dog biscuits in the shapes of bones, fire hydrants, and hearts. We also sponsored a school-wide towel drive with an overwhelming response from the community that gave new meaning to their service efforts.

As a class, we extended our learning about caring for God’s creatures throughout our curriculum by writing books in language arts about our visit to the shelter and how to care for pets. In art class, they drew pictures of the animals that were up for adoption to display around campus.

The sense of pride and continued eagerness to make a difference was very evident when an administrator from the Humane Society came to campus for a morning prayer presentation. Everyone wanted to participate working hard to learn their lines. Then standing on a box so that they could reach up to the microphone, they welcomed their guest and courageously taught the school what it means to provide a forever home. With extended hands, they led a prayer of blessing that each animal in the Humane Society’s care would find a forever home.

What did those kindergartners learn? That their little hands could help lots of little paws and also inspire others to remember every living creature deserves our love and attention. Every year it is heartwarming to watch each child show genuine intention and willingness to help throughout the process.

What did I learn? Just how big their little hearts are as they cared for the lost and homeless of God’s creation. What a privilege!