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A True Blessing

Students at St. Francis Parish School celebrate St. Francis Day by collecting supplies for shelter pets

Kind News magazine, Aug/Sept 2014

Students celebrate St. Francis Day with a collection for shelter pets. Wendy Turner

Students at St. Francis Parish School in Bakersfield, California, have been helping animals for nearly a decade.

A few weeks before St. Francis Day each year (Oct. 4), kids in Ms. Bowman’s sixth-grade class place “Coins for Canines” buckets in classrooms. In addition to collecting change, the kids ask for donations of blankets, towels, pet food and supplies for animals.

Celebration Day

For their St. Francis Day celebration, kids bring pets to school for a Blessing of the Animals ceremony. But pets aren’t the only special guests at the event. People from local animal charities are also invited and are presented with checks and piles of donated pet supplies.

In 2013, the kids divided the $2,800 they raised among three animal groups. The groups also shared the 390 pounds of cat food and 1,000 pounds of dog food collected. The students were even able to sponsor a kennel at an animal shelter for a whole year!

Looking Ahead

The sound of change dropping into buckets will soon be heard once again at St. Francis Parish School. At this year’s event, students hope to donate even more.

“People have come to depend on it,” says Ms. Bowman. The teacher explains that there is a large problem with homeless pets in Bakersfield. “We see dogs on the side of the road and we know we helped a little,” says Melia, a sixth-grader. Fellow student Olivia agrees: “It makes you feel good because you are making an impact.”

St. Francis Day in a Box

St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, is celebrated worldwide on October 4. Faith communities hold pet blessings and similar events throughout autumn to honor the saint’s devotion to God's creations.
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