Bristol students donate supplies to Veterans’ Buddies

Charity does not always come just from your hometown groups. Sometimes the need is so great, more people start to take notice and give a helping hand. That is what Bristol students did.

Students from Joseph Van Pelt Elementary’s “Girls on the Run” program in Bristol recently got together and raised money to donate a variety of items to animal-related charities, including the Sullivan County Animal Shelter and Carter County’s Veterans’ Buddies program.

Coach Patricia Sonner said they brainstorm a community outreach project at the end of their 12-week program, and the top two areas they wanted to focus on were animals and veterans. Veterans’ Buddies was a perfect fit to accomplish both.

“I have a soft spot for veterans because of the sacrifices they have made,” Sonner said. “This way, we are able to support both groups.”

Students raised awareness and funds for about a few weeks before making the donations last Friday.

“Some animals do not get a lot of food or treatment in a year,” fourth-grader Olivia Debord said. “We wanted every animal to be loved.”

Their fundraising efforts included raising awareness in their local schools and outside in their community.

“My favorite part was when we sent the food and toys to the shelter,” fifth-grader Haley McCracken said. “It made me feel really good.”

Sonner said the team works to instill community values in their participants throughout the three months and get some exercise at the same time. The students walked laps during their brainstorming session, and at the end of the program, they walk or run a 5K.

In particular, she said Veterans’ buddies need the support due to the people it serves and the small team who works to provide for them, especially since for many veterans, their pets are a way to help cope with PTSD and other factors.

“These pets are their companions,” Sonner said.

She said during the holiday season, with so many organizations needing the help, it can be difficult to decide where to invest time.

“Sometimes it is hard to decide to make a donation,” Sonner said. “No matter how hard our days are, someone has it harder.”

The students had various ideas to let other people get involved with charities in their community, from posting on social media to putting up signs in their neighborhoods.

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