Buster Brown, a 2-year-old, 4-pound Chihuahua, is just looking for a place to call home. Babbette is a shy, corgy-Chihuahua mix with black hair and brown eyes looking for a forever family to warm up to. And Littlebit is a feist with a quick wit and silly, floppy years.
These are the dogs that Leesville Road High School DECA club helped support after raising nearly $11,000 for Saving Grace Animals for Adoption in Wake Forest, which has found homes for more than 7,000 dogs since 2004.
The nonprofit organization will use to the money to pay for the dogs’ medical and other costs.
DECA is a national program that seeks to support future entrepreneurs and business professionals through club activities at high schools and colleges.
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Leesville Road High DECA President Zach Walker, a 16-year-old junior, said the club held the first Saving Grace Walk Against Animal Abuse in the fall 2013.
They held the second event, which included a 2.5 mile walk around Lake Lynn Park in Raleigh, on Nov. 15. More than 240 participants paid ($35 for adults and $25 for kids) to walk around the lake with their dogs. Participation was up nearly 37 percent compared to last year, and the club raised about $3,000 more in donations.
“We will be able to help more animals,” said Molly Goldston, president and founder of Saving Grace.
Many of their dogs come from rural shelters, she said, and often haven’t had any veterinary care. That means medical bills can be costly for dogs that often have heartworms and other health issues.
Ailsa Conolly, co-chair of the event and vice president of the school’s DECA club, Zach, and more than 20 other members of the DECA club also sought funding through event sponsorships, direct donations and a silent auction.
Zach has volunteered for Saving Grace for four years, and the first walk was held after DECA members visited the Wake Forest-based organization and saw the dogs being walked and socialized by volunteers.
This year, Zach said, club members successfully ramped up marketing and outreach.
“We worked smarter,” he said.
The experience gave the students the opportunity to pitch to and work with businesses, better understand the logistics and the importance of marketing and organizing, and the pride of raising money for a community organization that they believe in.
It’s stressful, Zach said, but rewarding.
One of the biggest challenges, he said, was balancing school work and a community research project.
“It was hard,” Zach said, but it did help him to hone yet another business skill: “time management.”
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