Dogs at the Humane Society of Cambria County have more room to play thanks to dog lovers such as Julia Chessa and DeAnnah Dick, seniors at Westmont Hilltop High School.
Due to the generosity of supporters such as Julia and DeAnnah, the Richland Township shelter was able to complete the construction of a new outdoor kennel late last winter, said Jeannine A. Gailey, executive director of the shelter.
For their senior projects at school, the pair raised more than $900 for the kennel and collected tons of pet food, pet toys and other items for the animals.
They started work just after Christmas by attaching photographs of the dogs on money collection cans and collection boxes and placing them at businesses, a parochial school and two churches – Our Mother of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Westmont and SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Windber. Julia attends the Windber church.
They also made treats for dogs and people and sold them at two Westmont Hilltop home basketball games.
For the dogs, they carved flour-based treats into the shape of doghouses, fire hydrants and bones. For people they made “puppy chow,” a cereal-based, chocolate-covered snack.
The two also held a dress-down day at Julia’s grade school, Our Mother of Sorrows School, in Westmont.
People everywhere were generous, both said.
“When we walked into OMOS School, I had to take a step back,” Julia said of her amazement at how many items such as pet food and pet supplies that students, teachers and staff donated.
“It filled the back of my dad’s pickup truck.”
DeAnnah said they couldn’t have raised all the money without the support of the businesses, school and churches for allowing the placement of the collection cans and boxes.
During the basketball games, the students and parents from Westmont Hilltop and the visiting schools, Greater Johnstown and Bishop McCort, likewise were generous, she said.
“We sold a lot of both treats,” she said. “All the students and parents were very responsive to our cause.”
Both said they wanted to help the Humane Society because they admire the organization’s mission.
“I just really think it’s great what they do for the dogs and cats,”
DeAnnah said. “I think it’s important to help them to keep doing what they are doing.”
Dogs are man’s best friend, said DeAnnah, who has two standard poodles named Gal and Gertie.
“Dogs keep you from feeling lonely,” she said.
Julia, who has a Yorkshire terrier named Pepper, said pets are nice to have around.
“You can’t replace the friendships you get with your animals,” she said.
“They make you happy when you are sad. Seeing all the dogs at the Humane Society, DeAnnah and I didn’t want to leave. We wanted to rescue all the dogs there.”
Both said their parents, Wallace Jr. and Susan Dick and Ray and Cathy Chessa, were a big help during the project.
For their efforts, Julia and DeAnnah are the Persons of the Week.
Gailey said the Humane Society is impressed with the time and effort that Julia and DeAnnah put into the project and are thrilled with the results.
“It’s clear that these young women were fully committed to this project,” she said. “They used unique ways to reach the public and had creative ideas. I have no doubt they will reach any goal that they set for themselves.”
Jen Harnett, a board member of the Humane Society, said as a teacher in the Westmont school district, she knows how hard Julia and DeAnnah worked on the project.
“It’s very gratifying to see young people spending their time working to support a good cause,” she said. “I think they are setting a great example for others.”