CLU students volunteer time for a good cause

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Many students love animals. They’re sweet, loyal and cuddling them decreases stress.

Community Service Center intern Astrid Olivares organized the PAWS For a Cause project to give back to the animals that mean so much to their human companions.

The project was in partnership with PAWS/LA, an organization that works to supply food, litter and medical supplies to pets in the Los Angeles area whose owners are not able to take care of them.

The organization specializes in donated supplies to the low-income elderly and those who are disabled by disease.

On Saturday, Nov. 3, eight students, one faculty member and one guest took a trip to the PAWS/LA headquarters in Los Angeles to help package one month’s worth of cat food and cat litter that would be sent to pet owners in the area.

Olivares is a junior at CLU and is the senior intern at the Community Service Center on campus.

“My job is to plan service events for the students to attend,” said Olivares. “My job is to plan these events out, carry them out and really market them to students and encourage them to attend and give back to their community.”

Olivares said that every event planned at the Community Service Center has a different focus.  Surprisingly, the focus of PAWS For a Cause was not to work with animals directly.

“I really want to focus on indirect service,” said Olivares, “That still plays a big role in our community.  You might not be playing with the pets, but you will be doing so much to benefit them.”

“My goal for this service project is to get students to understand what indirect service is and why it’s still important,” said Olivares.

According to Olivares, finding an organization to partner with on this project was no dog-walk in the park.

“It was really difficult this year,” said Olivares.  “I contacted a lot of different agencies and surprisingly, almost all of them said no.”

“At first it was frustrating because a lot of organizations closer to this area didn’t need any help, or they didn’t have anything planned, or they would say ‘We’re not looking for volunteers right now,’” said Olivares.

However, according to Olivares, PAWS/LA was excited to work with California Lutheran University.

The organization, which isn’t normally open on the weekends, even opened their doors just for CLU on Saturday, said Olivares.

Olivares said that the fact that there would be no interaction with the pets at the project could be discouraging to some students, but she was excited to present her message of indirect service.

One student at the event, Ryan Nunez, said he was interested in the project because he thought he would be directly involved with the animals.

“Then Astrid told me that it wasn’t,” said Nunez. “In the end, I think it was better than going and playing with animals because we actually got to help people that needed it and their pets in the process.”

“I had asked the students what they were looking forward to when we met in the morning,” said Olivares. “And a lot of them said ‘playing with puppies,’ and things like that.”

“I was kind of glad I had that expectation from some of them, because then my point got across to them a bit more,” said Olivares.

“I think they realized that it was better to help the pets in this way than to actually pet them if they were in a shelter, because then, at the end of the day, they would still stay in the shelter.   When we help them in this way, the pets are with their owners so it matters more,” said Olivares.

Lynzi Tarango is a senior at CLU.  She attended the PAWS For a Cause event and worked on distributing and packaging cat food.

Tarango said that they emptied out all of the smaller bags of cat food and then redistributed them into bins that would equate to a month’s worth of cat food.

“[The PAWS For a Cause project] made me appreciate the little things,” said Tarango. “It reinforced the idea that community and support is really important.”

 

Kaitlyn Guilbeaux
Staff Writer
Published Nov. 7, 2012