By John McGurl

“March Madness” may have struck the students at Wesley Chapel Elementary (WCE) in a different way than it may have hit your office, because they spent the month of March collecting cat food for Labor of Love Animal Rescue, Inc., a mobile rescue service. WCE’s student Safety Patrol took on this task as its annual community service project.

Coach Chris Gorman, WCE’s Safety Patrol coordinator, physical education teacher and head of the WCE “March Meow-ness” food drive, says, “Our main goal is to get all of the animals adopted.” Gorman adds that all of Labor of Love’s cats are being kept in volunteers’ homes.

“Our Safety Patrol made posters and even a commercial that ran on our closed circuit TV channel,” says Gorman. The students also created a display of the donations in the cafeteria under an assortment of tiles decorated by students with images of animals.

Gorman says he also contacted many cat food companies. Weruva, a company that makes all-natural pet foods, sent 500 cans to help the cause.

“I was really surprised when they (Weruva) replied that they wanted to help,” he says. With Weruva’s help, WCE faculty and students collected more than 5,000 cans of cat food to donate.

The WCE class that collected the most cans received five days of physical education for the week, getting to choose the activities, while most WCE classes usually only receive two days of PE. The students who brought in the most cans also were rewarded with “golden” tickets to the Safety Patrol’s end-of-year water day.

Two teachers used the fund raiser as a way to get their students to read. Third grade teachers Amanda Novotny and Marci Williams brought in cans of cat food that their students could win by logging the most hours on iReady, a computer reading program. Third grade student Taylor Mack earned the 510 cans by logging 32 hours in the reading program. Thanks to winning that prize, Taylor was also the highest donor overall with a total of 522 cans.

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