Sunday, November 23, 2014

Boy boosts budget with four-legged fundraiser

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 5/19/2014

Tucker Baldwin was playing with cats at Prairie Paws Animal Shelter when he heard workers talking about the shelter being short on funds.

“I decided I wanted to do something to help,” Tucker, who just wrapped up his fifth-grade year at Lincoln Elementary School, 1102 N. Milner Road, said.

Tucker Baldwin was playing with cats at Prairie Paws Animal Shelter when he heard workers talking about the shelter being short on funds.

“I decided I wanted to do something to help,” Tucker, who just wrapped up his fifth-grade year at Lincoln Elementary School, 1102 N. Milner Road, said.

Tucker, a volunteer at the shelter for the past four years, decided to organize a “Paws for a Cause” fundraiser for the shelter, 3173 K-68, Ottawa,

“Tucker created fliers, newsletters, gave a morning announcement at his school, and pitted the classes of Lincoln Elementary against each other to see who could earn the most money,” Valerie Baldwin, Tucker’s mom, said.

In addition to announcing the contest over the intercom at Lincoln and distributing flyers and newsletters, Tucker posted information about the contest on Facebook. The class that raised the most money would be given a movie and ice cream party.

“He set a goal of raising $100 in five days,” Baldwin said of the May 5-9 contest. “I knew there were 511 students at Lincoln, so I thought that he could reach that goal.”

But Tucker and Valerie Baldwin said they had no idea the fundraiser would garner 10 times that amount.

When the final numbers were tabulated, Baldwin discovered her son had collected $1,028.21 for the shelter, she said.

“Tucker was glad he did it,” Valerie Baldwin said, with a smiling Tucker nodding in agreement. “On Wednesday, we did a preliminary count to let people know how the fundraiser was going and we had collected $309 [in donations]. Tucker said we were going to raise $1,000, and I didn’t think it was possible — but it happened.”

Baldwin said family, friends, Ottawa school district staff members and other community members who learned about the initiative on Facebook kicked in more than $200 for the fundraiser, which brought the total to a little more than $1,000.

“We were very excited to receive the donation, and a little shocked to see how much Tucker was able to raise in just one week,” Melissa Reed, shelter director, said. “He came and asked for a meeting and told me his idea. I thought it was great and definitely wanted to help him and help promote it. I didn’t expect [him to raise] $1,000.”

Tucker presented the funds to Reed at the shelter May 12, she said.

Tucker has performed a variety of duties as a volunteer at the shelter, including cleaning kennels, walking dogs, socializing cats and other chores, his mom said.

“I wasn’t sure if he would stick with it, but he has and he really enjoys it,” Valerie Baldwin said. “I pick him up at 12:45 after school [on early release Wednesdays], and he volunteers at the shelter for two hours from 1 to 3 every Wednesday afternoon.”

When Tucker was in the second and third grades, Baldwin said, he had his birthday parties at the shelter and asked for gifts for the shelter instead of presents for himself.

With more than 40 kittens and “lots of” puppies at the shelter needing a home, Tucker said, he knows the shelter is in need of food for puppies and kittens.

Prairie Paws will put Tucker’s donation toward its general operating expenses, Reed said.

“In addition to the financial support, we are so pleased Tucker volunteers at the shelter,” Reed said. “He helps walk the dogs, gets in there and cleans — he’s never afraid to do the dirty work. To find that kind of commitment from someone his age is very impressive.”

“[The shelter] is about $40,000 behind where it needs to be for the year,” Reed said. “We are busy raising funds so we can continue the critical services we provide here.”

Prairie Paws will mark its fourth birthday at the K-68 location with a carnival 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 14 at the shelter complete with games, balloons, animals, prizes and other family activities. The event is free to the public. For a $5 donation, residents can stay and enjoy a barbecue dinner at 6 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. concert with the James Webster Band, a “rockin’ country band,” according to its website.

Tucker, who talked about the shelter’s birthday party, said he was pleased his fifth-grade class at Lincoln raised $167 to win the fundraising contest. Kara Corley’s class enjoyed ice cream bars and a movie, “Despicable Me 2.” Katy Hoffman’s first-grade class also was awarded a party, Valerie Baldwin said

“Tucker’s class raised the most, but [Katy Hoffman’s] first-grade class was right on their heels,” Baldwin said.

The first-graders munched on popcorn and watched the movie “Snow Buddies” for their treat.

Tucker smiled as he reflected on exceeding his fundraising goal.

“I was happy we could help the animals at the shelter,” he said.

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