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Bridgeport collection benefits BCARL

Photo Provided Nova Hartline, a first-grade student at Bridgeport Elementary School, contributes items for the annual holiday collection for the Belmont County Animal Rescue League.

BRIDGEPORT — The holidays are going to the dogs–and cats–as Bridgeport Elementary School students collect items for a local animal shelter.

For the past few weeks, first- and third-grade classes have gathered everything from pet food and treats to leashes, collars and blankets for the Belmont County Animal Rescue League.

The project is spearheaded by first-grade teacher Kim Vitale and items will be collected Wednesday by BCARL representatives, who are also expected to bring a four-legged guest to thank the kids.

“Instead of having a gift exchange, we want kids to understand that Christmas is about giving and not just receiving gifts,” she said. “We sent a letter to families to collect items for the animal shelter and they can donate food for cats and dogs, treats, used towels and blankets, newspapers, paper towels, collars, leashes, laundry soap and dryer sheets.

“We will have the kids bring everything in by (Monday) and on Wednesday … (shelter representatives) will bring an animal in for the kids to see. They will also give information about the animal shelter and collect the donations.”

The community service project is now in its sixth year and Vitale said children enjoy giving to the cause, as well as the reward of a visit by a furry friend. Three first-grade and two third-grade classrooms are participating and the project has generated several hundred items in the past.

Staff members may also make contributions and Vitale noted that there is an important lesson about the reason for the season.

“I think they like that better than a gift exchange,” she concluded. “We really promote kindness at the school and it meets two of our school goals: kindness and responsibility.”

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