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Third-grader leads pet supply drive

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Madison Schmidt holds Bentley, a shelter dog at James River Humane Society, where she was volunteering and dropping off donated items on Dec. 28. Tom LaVenture / The Sun2 / 2

A Jamestown girl who volunteers at James River Humane Society said she wanted to see the dogs and cats receive some of the same things that people give their own pets.

Madison Schmidt, a Roosevelt Elementary School third-grader, said she has two guinea pigs and tropical fish at home and considers the shelter dogs and cats to also be her pets.

She observed while volunteering that people donate a lot of pet food and other items through the Hugo’s Family Marketplace donation box for the Humane Society. Inspired by the Hugo’s box, Madison started a drive at her school for students to donate essential items of food and blankets but also for grooming tools, toys, softballs and chewables, children’s books and treats so that dogs and cats get a little something extra after mealtime, she said.

“That’s the best part I like about volunteering at the Humane Society,” Madison said.

Madison recalled when elementary school students visited the Humane Society to read children’s books to the dogs and cats last October. The event inspired Madison to include books among the recommended items on the donation list.

Gary Sahr, president of the James River Humane Society, said material and monetary donations make a big difference in helping the nonprofit shelter stretch its budget. It’s also a way to be sure the animals get some of the nicer things that family pets get at home, he said.

“These are terrific, marvelous, great,” Sahr said of the Roosevelt School donations. “For a little girl her age to do this on her own is really something special.”

Madison volunteers at the Humane Society with her grandmother, Susan Fieber. The two decided to contact Madison’s school about having a donation box for kids to drop off items, she said.

“In one day we got all this accomplished,” Fieber said of the donation drive that produced several bags of the requested items. “I am very proud of our granddaughter.”

The teachers at Roosevelt are always encouraging children to reach out and help the community, said Riley Carlson, who is Madison’s third-grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School. It teaches kids how to have a positive impact in all kinds of social settings, he said.

“Madison has taken that to the next level,” Carlson said. “She is a dedicated student who has taken on spearheading a project and has gotten everyone on board.”

Roosevelt school will continue with a donation box throughout the year, Fieber said. She and Madison will continue to drop off the items and are hopeful that more students will become volunteers or adopt animals through the experience, she said.

“We love our time out here; we really do,” Fieber said. “It’s a great way to spend time with the grandchildren.”

[This story was changed to correct the spelling of Susan Fieber's name.]

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