Kids can help homeless pets during the holidays through organized and advertised events or by individual activities with their families. This list includes a variety of ways to coordinate kids’ fundraising activities with the holidays. Help show kids they can have a meaningful and joyous holiday by helping pets. It doesn’t cost much and is the best gift they can give AND receive.
Perhaps your shelter can coordinate some of these activities. Or, if you have an active volunteer group with contacts and influence throughout the community, others can take the lead on the shelter’s behalf.
Help Kids Organize a Pet Food Bank for Shelter Animals
— Work with schools, churches, or local youth groups to set up a pet food bank to feed hungry pets in the community.
Provide a list of the type of food (by brand, size, etc) your shelter needs and ask every child to bring an item on the list. Find a space to display the items that are open for view so the kids can see the progress they’re making. Bring some shelter animals over for a holiday party to present the food so the kids can see the pets they’re helping. Perhaps a presentation to explain the number of pets at the shelter, how long the donated food will last, how many pets are taken in yearly, etc., would be helpful. Or, take the kids and food to the shelter and have the party there.
Present each child with a T-shirt, bag, or some item with your logo/shelter name, such as “I support my town’s Shelter’s Pets.” Seek out business sponsors to pay for these items.
- Work with local programs in your area such as Meals on Wheels or other services for homebound citizens to deliver food to their pets. Include the kids in these deliveries.
- Work with a local food bank already established for needy citizens to contribute pet food for pet owners.
Conduct a Holiday Bake Sale
Kids can raise money for homeless pets by conducting a bake sale for holiday treats in partnership with local retail stores, schools, churches, holiday arts, and craft shows, etc.
Conduct a Holiday Garage Sale
Partner with schools, churches, libraries, local retail stores, restaurants, etc., to help kids set up a garage sale on behalf of homeless pets. Find a large space, preferably indoors, to conduct this event and advertise in the local paper, TV and radio stations, retail storefronts, etc., for contributions and customers. This of course would take a good bit of planning and organization but nearly everyone has something they can donate.
Kids can help develop posters and flyers, ask retailers to post flyers, help organize and price the sale items, etc. Have some adoptable pets on hand the day of the sale.
Participate in Community Arts and Craft Shows, Parades, Festivals
Most communities have several holiday-related events. Figure out a way to involve kids, such as a pet parade, selling kids’ animal art at art shows, selling their baked goods, holiday events at malls, etc.
Partner with local businesses on behalf of animals
- Photographers to take photos of kids and pets
- Artists to draw or paint pets
- Canine freestyle or K9 dance competition and classes
Organize Holiday Parties at Your Shelter for Kids
If you have the space, develop a plan to sponsor holiday parties for kids in your area. Develop plans for food, seating, a humane education program, and a table for kids to bring presents for the pets based on a wish list you provide.
Parents could bring their kids and friends and/or schools could sponsor field trips.
Advertise these parties in your local paper (print and online), on school bulletin boards, library bulletin boards, church newsletters, etc.
Encourage Kids to Have Home Holiday Parties on Behalf of Shelter Pets
Kids can have home parties with friends bringing items from the shelter wish list as gifts. What a great way to help kids learn the meaning of the season by sharing with pets. Take the kids and the gifts to the shelter as part of the party so they can see how their gifts will be used.
Include Kids on Outreach Programs for the Elderly and Infirm
Include kids in any activities or programs in which animals are taken to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or homebound citizens’ homes to provide companionship and therapy. Take a treat for the pets, the kids, and those you’re visiting for a very special holiday celebration.
Partner with Local Churches’ Holiday Celebrations
Celebrate the spirit of the season by partnering with churches in your area. They typically have celebrations for kids. Ask the kids to bring items from your shelter’s wish list and pet food.
Kids Can Organize and Contribute to Holiday Celebrations for Shelter Related Activities
For example, if there are spay/neuter clinics, adoptions at local retail stores, or special adoption events at the local animal shelter, include kids in baking items to serve guests, gather gifts for pets, etc.
Set up Competitive Holiday Events for Kids
Conduct a holiday bake-off such as a cookie cook-off in which attendees pay to taste and judge the cookies.
Set up a walk for animals and have a contest for the most donations, the best costumes, etc.
Encourage Kids to Buy Holiday Gifts That Benefit Animal Shelters
If your local shelter sells items such as calendars, cards, T-shirts, etc, encourage kids to shop for family, friends, school gifts, etc. from a source that benefits homeless pets.
Set Up a Wish List On the Shelter’s Web site
Use a service such as Amazon to set up a wish list in which animal lovers can buy items on the animal shelter’s wish list from their home computer. Ask tech-savvy kids to help with this and let animal lovers know about it on the shelter’s website, newsletter, local newspaper, etc.
Set Up a Drive to Gather Items for Shelter’s Wish List
Often the wish list will include items such as trash bags, paper towels, detergent, paper, kitty litter, cat and dog beds, etc. Kids can set goals and/or compete with each other to bring the most items from the list to school, to church, to kids’ after-school groups, etc.
Coordinate a Book Sale
Ask for donations of kids’ books, cookbooks, art books, landscape books, and any books that would be good holiday presents. Also, ask local bookstores or big-box discount stores to donate what they can. A book sale could be done at a library, school, church, etc.
Kids Can Sponsor a Pet at the Local Shelter
— Partner with schools in your area. Use an approach similar to what’s used for giving to needy families, perhaps a Christmas tree with photos of pets hanging from the branches. Attach a note to each photo using clever copy to describe each pet. “I’m Sam. I thought I had my forever home, but that fell through. While I wait for my new humans, I’d really love to have my favorite food, xxx, every day.”
You can ask for a specific food, a dollar amount for one month, three months, etc.
Take the sponsorship idea one step further and make it a contest between classes. Which class can bring the most food, donate the most money, etc?
Have a celebration when the money and/or gifts are presented to the shelter. Bring some homeless pets to the classroom or take the kids to the shelters.
— Encourage kids to sponsor a specific pet at the shelter as a gift for friends or family.
Feature pets on the shelter’s website and allow visitors to choose the pet they wish to sponsor. Send a digital photo of that pet via email or a hard copy via US mail to the recipient of the sponsorship with information about the pet. If possible, it would be a nice touch to notify the sponsor when that pet is adopted or any other information about its progress at the shelter.
— Kids or a School Class Can Partner with Local Businesses to Sponsor a Pet
Set up a program in which classes at school work with a local business to sponsor a pet(s). For example, a class or several kids can work with a business to collect money and/or pet food from their customers. Set a goal of supporting several pets, a specific need at the shelter such as veterinary services for one month, food for one year, etc.
Or, businesses who advertise in the local paper for the holidays could combine a photo of a homeless pet with its logo or business ad. The kids could help coordinate the photos, write the copy for the ad, and work as a partner with that business.
Share a Heartwarming Story of What Kids Can Do to Help Homeless Pets
If you’ve ever wondered just how much a few kids and parents can accomplish on behalf of our animal friends, tell kids the incredible story of The No Kill Kids of Texas (written by the Best Friends Society). The Dalhart Animal Wellness Group and Sanctuary in Dalhart, TX was started when fourth-graders in Dalhart, Texas questioned why animals have to die. This shelter was started with the help of their teacher.
For more holiday ideas, please see:
— Ten Ideas for Increasing Animal Shelter Holiday Donations
— Twelve Family Holiday Traditions That Help Homeless and Needy Pets