A group of Chilliwack teenagers committed to making a difference for the environment and animals brought an early Christmas present to a cat shelter on Monday.
The Ecomaniacs, an environmental protection club run by students at Sardis Secondary School, donated $500 worth of supplies to Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven on Dec. 19.
They’ve been fundraising for months through bake sales and pizza sales. The weekend before Christmas, their teacher Tania Toth went out and bought cat food, kitty litter and other supplies with the $500 they raised.
“I obviously love animals, so this club really helps me support my passions for trying to help, and it also lets me help my community because I get to come here and volunteer,” said Grade 11 student Sierra Schumacher.
Ecomaniacs started up in March, but it was mainly just two other students, Sarah Verma and Claire Pinckney, who represented the club it at the time. It wasn’t until this school year, in September, when things really started to pick up as they had grown to 14 members.
“We do stuff for the climate and eco systems,” Verma said. “Animals are a big part of our club so this is a way we can ‘hands-on’ accomplish that goal.”
The students volunteer at Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven once a month on weekends for about three or four hours each time. The hours are put towards their required 30 hours of volunteer time needed to graduate.
All of the members agree that visiting the cats is the best part of the club.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Lynne Torgalson, board member with Chilliwack Animal Safe Haven.
She said the cats need the attention. Since there are so many cats, many volunteers sometimes only have time to clean the cat rooms and feed them.
“We’re the socialization squad,” said Pinckney. “You meet so many interesting characters here with the cats and I think not one of them isn’t special to me… they’re all really special to me, they’re all very funny.”
In fact, she has adopted two cats herself from the shelter as a result of volunteering.
Currently, there are about 80 cats at the shelter, more than the average of about 60 cats.
“It’s been a banner year for kittens,” Torgalson said. “I’ve been volunteering for 12 years and we’ve never had this many kittens, ever.”
To help spread the word about cats up for adoption club members post photos of them on Instagram.
“It is their goal to create more community awareness around the shelter with hopes of generating more donation and even better adoptions,” teacher Toth said.
Ecomaniacs member Carys Bamford also made ‘adopt-a-cat’ posters and hung them around the school. Each one has a picture of a shelter cat with short description of it.
“I like how the club is a small community I’m a part of that has the same interests as me with the environment,” Bamford said. “I feel really included in this club.”
The members meet at lunchtime. They also brought compost bins into the school which they maintain regularly after school and clean once a week.
Verma added that they also want to do more on sustainability and are planning a river cleanup for the future.
“I believe this is a great initiative the students have chosen and they are excited to continue to help at the shelter and outside of the shelter supporting future initiatives through fundraising,” Toth said.