Redlands Daily Facts (CA)
March 18, 2010
REDLANDS – Handmade signs with pictures of brownies and cookies drawn in crayon hang on doorways around the Redlands Christian School campus. The signs were made by kindergartners hoping to entice students and teachers to come to their bake sale. The bake sale is part of the kindergartners’ effort to raise enough money to sponsor the purchase of a harness for a guide dog that will someday serve the blind.
“We love working with Guide Dogs of the Desert,” said kindergarten teacher Betsy Jeffers.
“Last year we were able to raise enough money to sponsor the harness and the training for the dog and dog owner.”
Community service is emphasized as part of the curriculum at Redlands Christian School.
“Our children are being guided to give and share through the service projects and partnerships that they are involved in at the school,” Jeffers said.
She choked up as she told of one little boy who brought in his tooth fairy money to donate to Guide Dogs of the Desert.
“Last year, another boy emptied his entire piggy bank and brought in $50,” she said.
In addition to several all-school service partnerships with local organizations such as Family Service Association of Redlands and global organizations such as Compassion International, each class chooses a service activity to do or organization to partner with for the year.
Some of the organizations involved include the Ronald McDonald House, Helping Hands Pantry and the Lutheran Braille Workers in Yucaipa. The school’s service theme is SURF, an acronym that stands for “Serving with Understanding, Respect and Faith.”
“The students have really taken on an attitude of others first,” said Kathy Barr, elementary principal.
“They’ve started looking outside of themselves in a lot of ways.”
Last week, Jeffers’ kindergarten students were treated to a demonstration of how important a guide dog is to a blind person.
Sandy Esposito, a recent graduate of the training program, visited the kindergarten classes with her dog, Bobby. The students were fascinated as Esposito showed them how Bobby helps her navigate around buildings and up and down stairs.
Esposito answered questions and taught the students not to pet a service dog when it is working.
Guide Dogs of the Desert is based in Palm Springs. The not-for-profit organization provides free training and equipment to the blind, relying on donations and volunteers for its operations. A dog will typically receive eight to 10 months of training before graduating from the program to become a service dog.
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