Students' projects leads to rescue

Williamsport High classes raise funds to help dogs find homes

Williamsport High classes raise funds to help dogs find homes

January 04, 2007|by JANET HEIM

WILLIAMSPORT - It's a rite of passage that students in Robert Herr's Honors Sociology class at Williamsport High School will have to do a research project.

Since an unexpected community service project began, though, Herr said he might reconsider that requirement.

It started with an e-mail from the Humane Society of Washington County, asking for donations of treats, supplies and money for the animals at the shelter.

A casual mention of the request to his students, including his two world-history classes, drew such interest that Herr decided to explore the idea of a service project.

"They started forking over cash the minute I mentioned it," Herr said of his students.

Herr said the more he thought about it, the more he realized the value of an active project in lieu of a research project for his Honors Sociology class. He told students it had to be a meaningful project with a worthy goal and the goal had to be met.


Herr's world history classes agreed to help the Humane Society, while his sociology class decided it wanted to do something different. Those students chose Lab Rescue, an organization with which Herr is involved.

The all-volunteer organization rescues, fosters and adopts out Labrador retrievers and golden-Labrador retriever mixes. The Potomac Chapter, which includes Maryland, most of Virginia and half of Pennsylvania, found homes for 653 dogs this year, Herr said.

Students set a goal of raising $1,000 by Dec. 22, and began brainstorming ideas for raising the money.

Devin Gaither, 17, provided the encouragement Herr needed to proceed with the project. She was the first student in the class to contribute, bringing in $60 worth of merchandise she purchased at PetSmart, where she works.

Devin said she knows through her job how giving the public can be.

"Everyone has a soft spot for animals," she said.

Class members have created posters to advertise their efforts, from donation jars around school to a best-looking pet contest - the idea of Ben Stone and Chad Bikle, both 17.

Rebekah Coleman, 18, passed out fliers in her neighborhood and was touched when several young girls came to her door delivering grocery bags full of dog treats and supplies. Tony's Pizza in Williamsport agreed to donate five pizzas a day for two days that were sold for $2 a slice, thanks to Kara Scovitch's efforts.

Rachel Doub, 17, persuaded the yearbook adviser to donate a 2006-07 Williamsport High School yearbook for a raffle, with tickets selling for $1. When the Williamsport Rotary meets this week, Sam Leiter, 17, will be at the meeting to ask for donations and help with the project.

Herr's wife, Melinda, is a corporate officer with Este Lauder. She donated Stila cosmetics that are being sold by the students.

For the guys, Justin Artz donated lanyards and wristbands that are "free with donation."

The focus of this project is fundraising, but the students haven't forgotten the ultimate goal - that of finding good homes for the dogs. Justin said because of this project, one of his mother's co-workers might adopt a dog from Lab Rescue.

"This cause seems to have touched a nerve. The nice thing is this is going to teach them more about civic duty than doing a research project. Networking with the community - that's how you get things done. It's a good lesson," Robert Herr said. "They've done such a great job. It makes me want to cry."

As of Dec. 26, students had raised about $1,100.

To donate to this project, call Robert Herr at 301-371-9329 (home) or 240-446-9782 (cell). Or, go to Lab Rescue's Web site,

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