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Sewing for a paws cause
Fashion students make and donate pet toys
There were squeals of joy when students heard the handsewn pet toys they had made would benefit puppies who were being rescued from a shelter in Mississippi.
The good news came when students in Carmen Galiano’s Fashion and Retail class took a field trip to the Westchester SPCA in Briarcliff Manor to deliver cat and dog toys they had made.
The project, which resulted in the completion of 90 toys for the animals, was the perfect way for students to start their school year, Ms. Galiano said.
A requirement for her class is for students to learn work-based objectives and this project helped fulfill that goal.
Students researched what toys would be appropriate, learned about cutting a pattern and sewing the items together. They also were introduced to skills such as knotting and braiding and learned specific types of stitching.
The project was inspired by a visit from an SPCA volunteer to the Career Services campus who stopped to see the Animal Science students. On a tour of the school the guest was introduced to the fashion students and the idea for the project was sparked.
“She saw that we made things,” Ms. Galiano said.
At that time her classes were busy preparing for their annual fashion show, so Ms. Galiano kept the idea in the back of her mind for when school resumed this fall.
“They are the first things they had ever sewn,” she said of the toys. “Each student made a total of seven toys, four for dogs and three for cats.”
The project was treated as if the students had made a product they were going to sell. Not only did they make the products but were also responsible for inspecting them, packaging them up to be delivered and actually making the delivery, which they did on Oct. 25.
Joanne Witmeyer, director of volunteer services, humane education and human resources with the SPCA of Westchester, greeted the students when they arrived.
Ms. Witmeyer said dog toys are used with the animals as a source of enrichment and some prefer the softer varieties, like the ones the students had made, while others enjoy harder toys for chewing.
“Cats are very picky about pet toys,” Ms. Witmeyer said. “They like the ones with feathers and balls.”
The cat toys donated by the students came with bells, balls and feathers. Some even had catnip inside them too.
Student Tracy Greene said she was familiar with some of the techniques used to make the toys and enjoyed the experience.
“It was good,” student Lukas Roth said, adding he appreciated learning what he called the “bunny ear” stitch, which required making large loops with the thread.
Once the toys had been officially handed over, students were given a brief tour of the facility. They had an opportunity to see some of the dogs who are available for adoption and get a glimpse of the house where the cats stay while they wait for their forever homes.
“I love animals,” one student said as she watched the dogs. “That is why I am so happy to be here.”
That same afternoon, students in Ms. Galiano’s Fashion Design and Merchandising class returned to the SPCA of Westchester to drop off more toys they had made.