FALL RIVER — A group of students at B.M.C. Durfee High School is honoring the late Betty White while learning important life skills by running a fundraiser for a local animal shelter.
“They’re just so independent. It’s like a little business,” said Rebecca Marshall, a special education teacher at the school.
The project is part of a life skills class. Marshall said her students suggested it to her in December, after White died and calls to donate to animal organizations in her memory began to circulate on social media. White’s birthday last month saw the Betty White Challenge bring a boost in donations to local shelters.
The 11 students decided they wanted to sell homemade dog treats and collect pet items like cat litter, then donate the money and supplies to a local animal shelter. They created a flyer, painted boxes for donation items, researched local shelters and looked up recipes for homemade dog treats online. Now, they’re spending their life skills class periods baking the treats and then selling them during lunch periods.
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“They really facilitated the whole thing,” Marshall said. “For them to think of this whole project and execute it is a big deal.”
So far, they’ve raised more than $200. And the project still has a few more weeks to go; it will run until February break, which this year starts on Feb. 18.
The money and supplies will go to Fall River’s Forever Paws Animal Shelter.
One recent morning, the class worked on baking their latest batch of treats. Some students wrote labels, some measured ingredients and mixed the dough and others shaped it into cookies and put them in the oven.
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Felix Soto, a freshman, worked with a classmate to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to slice it into tiny dogs and bone shapes.
“We like helping animals in need,” he said.
Andres Salvador, a senior, said the project helped him learn new skills, like following a recipe and measuring out ingredients.
“(White) was a good person, so we’re just trying to help,” he said.
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Marshall said some of the students involved could likely go on to have jobs in the food service industry later in life, so learning skills like measuring out food and kitchen safety are especially important. And, selling the treats during lunch periods encourages them to interact with general education students.
“That is a big deal for them. They feel very included,” Marshall said.
Gail Furtado, president of Forever Paws, said the shelter took in more than $10,000 in donations around White’s birthday that were directly linked to the online challenge, along with donations of physical items like cat food.
“It’s just been really great,” she said.
Audrey Cooney can be reached at [email protected]. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.