A good deed for good dogs

Holly Springs girl’s latest fundraiser helps her hometown’s K-9 unit

schandler@newsobserver.comNovember 11, 2012 

COURTESY OF KAREN CLYMER

Most kids can relate to Alexa Clymer’s first fundraising experience: a lemonade stand.

But Alexa branched out after that first lemonade stand, which raised $75 to go toward relief efforts after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I kind of decided we should do bigger things,” said Alexa of Holly Springs, now 12. So the following year she held a bake sale to help people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. That event raised almost $400. Next up was a fundraiser for tornado victims in Joplin, Mo.

“I have this feeling that I need to help people a lot,” Alexa said to explain her fundraising habit. “I enjoy it, it makes me feel good. I just love having work to do also, so I wanted to put it for something good.”

Her latest project’s focus was closer to home.

After reading a book about a military dog wounded while serving without a bulletproof vest, Alexa wondered whether local police dogs have the protection they need. Her research showed that bulletproof vests are no longer preferred for police dogs, but some protective gear is used, and it gets expensive.

“I was thinking I should still do something for them,” she said, “so I decided to have this bake sale.”

So one late September afternoon, Alexa and some friends set up on a busy corner in her neighborhood, selling baked goods to raise money to be given to the Holly Springs Police Department’s K-9 unit.

“It caught me by surprise – in a good way,” said Sgt. Chris Poston, who heads up the unit. He said the department had just recently expanded its K-9 unit from two dogs to four, so the help was extra appreciated.

When the day came, Alexa and the group of friends she recruited from her school, West Lake Middle, were ready with piles of baked goods and tables set up on a busy corner of Alexa’s neighborhood. And the Holly Springs Police Department was ready to pitch in, too.

They sent Justice, one of the new dogs they’re training to do police work, and her handler to make an appearance.

“It was very exciting,” Alexa said. “The police dog is, like, incredibly strong.”

Justice was also a strong pull for customers, Alexa said. She made a point of telling passersby and customers that Justice was planning an appearance, and “they came back later in the day to hang out with the dog.”

In the end, the bake sale raised $200 for Justice and her counterparts. The money will “go toward care and maintenance for the dogs in some capacity,” Poston said, adding that when you’re working with big, strong dogs, “There’s always equipment that needs replacement.”

When the bake sale was all over, Alexa felt “exhausted,” she admitted. “It’s always really a hectic day. But you always feel good, because you know you helped out with something.”

And it wasn’t long before she shook off the exhaustion and starting thinking about her next fundraiser. No firm plans are set, but she and a friend already have been talking about some sort of outdoor event with activities to raise money for breast cancer charities. And she’s been inspired by recent headlines to host a coat drive to help families in New Jersey left in the cold after Hurricane Sandy.

And that’s kind of typical of how her projects come to life, Alexa said.

“I’ll like be sitting in bed reading and be like, ‘You know, I should do a fundraiser.’ So I call up my friend, and we figure it out.”

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