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Bootie Brigade

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3rd-graders help dogs here, in Alaska

By The Staff

Cannelton third-graders are Learning to Give through projects that have them helping dogs halfway across town and in a far corner of the United States.

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Teacher Joan Goble said her students chose to help Perry County animal shelter inhabitants as a Learning to Give project. Learning to Give is the curriculum division of The League, a school-based system that combines state standards-based lesson plans with community-service events to teach students the value of giving and recognizing them for their efforts. Information about the program is available at www. leagueworldwide.org.

"Before Christmas the students collected items for the dogs and cats such as toys and bedding, along with money to help pay for the special diet food they receive," Goble said. "The students are now looking at purchasing a large item for the shelter, possibly grooming tools to help the animals be clean and healthy."

The students also signed up to participate in an effort to help dogs that will run in the 1,150-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which will begin March 7 in Anchorage, Alaska.

They're part of a group called the "Bootie Brigade," Goble explained, "which make booties for the dogs who run the Iditarod race. The class signed up to make 50 booties, and were assigned a musher to make the booties for. Their musher is Ramey Smyth."

Smyth, 33, was born in Alaska, the son of Iditarod veterans Bud Smyth and the late Lolly Medley, and came in third last year.

Booties must be made out of a special material ordered through the bootie brigade, using a specific design and sewing instructions, Goble explained.

"The students enjoyed cutting out the pattern, using the pattern to trace and then cut out the booties," she said. The booties were then sewn by Goble and Elementary Principal Ginger Conrad

When all 50 booties were made, they were sent straight to Smyth's contact in Alaska, Goble said, along with letters the students wrote to him, photos of them creating the booties and color sheets of a musher with encouraging wishes.

"The students enjoyed making the booties so much, they have decided to go ahead and make 50 more," Goble said.