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Students create and sell arts and crafts as part of the 'We Walk with Paws' program

Twice a week, early in the morning at Mabel Rush Elementary School, fifth grade student Devianna Gerr starts setting up. She's often joined by her mom and a handful of her classmates, who help Gerr prepare for the day.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Devianna Gerr, 10, shows off some of the crafts she and her classmates are selling to raise money for the Newberg Animal Shelter.

Gerr sets up a stand where she and her classmates sell arts and crafts to raise money for the Newberg Animal Shelter. The program, called "We Walk with Paws," has kept its seven members busy over the past six months as they collect money for dogs, cats and other animals in need.

The kids' involvement was born out of a twice-weekly 'expert hour' in Lory Albright's fifth grade class, during which Albright says the students research topics of interest and find ways to share this interest with their classmates. The topic of interest was a no-brainer for Gerr, who said she loves animals and has a pet bunny of her own that she was inspired to adopt.

"Seeing all the animals all sad and lonely in the animal shelter, we just wanted to buy them things like food," Gerr, 10, said. "Then they would be happy and get adopted."

Evelyn Garcia, Gerr's classmate, had the original idea for the stand and said the students went to school administrators to see if they could set it up prior to the beginning of classes and at recess. Wendy Abraham, one of the students' mothers, was integral in helping organize the effort with help from Albright.

From there, it was about recruiting students to put together the arts and crafts they would eventually sell. All the pieces – ranging from drawings to sculptures to accessories – cost less than $3 each.

So far, We Walk with Paws has raised more than $650 at Mabel Rush, all of which has been donated to the Newberg Animal Shelter. It's an achievement that has taken plenty of hard work from the students, Albright said, and is the evidence of that hard work paying off.

Students even presented their project at an all-school assembly and did a "great job" articulating their mission, Albright said. She added that they hope to continue making a difference as the school year winds to a close and are happy to accept donations from people outside of the school as well, all of which will be diverted to the shelter.

"I'm just super proud that they took their idea and it just keeps growing and growing and helping others," Albright said. "People have asked us how they can donate, so it's pretty exciting."

Those interested in donating to the fund or purchasing arts and crafts made by the group, may email Albright at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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