7380 Girard Avenue, La Jolla

Gillispie School / Community Service  / C stands for Compassion
dog toys for humane society

C stands for Compassion

Inspired by Phyliss Reynolds Naylor’s novel Shiloh, fourth graders sprung into action to help animals who are facing life challenges. Thanks to the help of a resourceful room parent and their classroom teachers, the children worked with water bottles, socks, stuffing, tennis balls, cloth, and squeakers to create 200 toys for the San Diego Humane Society. Many opted to give up recesses to complete the task.

Lessons learned went well beyond the skill building of braiding and tying knots–no small feat as mentioned by a participant. “Some of the dog toys were hard and frustrating to make but to make the dogs happy, it was nothing.” This community service project went to the heart of freely expressing empathy and good intentions. Quoting directly (with a few spelling edits on my part) from students, the takeaways from the week-long experience were many.

One child noted, “This was a life-changing experience. It’s heartwarming to help out these adorable dogs.” Another stated, “It is going to be a memory I will always have,” while someone else felt, “It is an honor to be able to maybe make dogs’ lives better.”

In Gillispie’s ICARE Values, the C stands for Compassion which was experienced by the fourth graders: “The toys will also make dogs less lonely.” / “I hope all of these puppies or dogs will find a home soon.” / “I want all dogs to have good and fun lives.”

The toys were delivered to SDHS on Halloween, and as one fourth grader noted, “It’s like instead of getting candy, they got chew toys!” And as one quipped, this would be a “Happy Howl-o-ween” for their furry friends.

As educators, we hope to ignite the creative and intellectual potential of children, and we are onto something when a nine-year-old writes, “When we were told we were going to be making toys for the dogs at the San Diego Humane Society, the fire already inside me because of pure joy, grew 5 times more lively.”

May life be about finding our mission and passion.

Alison Fleming, Head of School

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