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Pahrump Valley High JAG students complete first community service project

A Pahrump no-kill animal shelter benefited from a newly-established high school program.

Students enrolled in Pahrump Valley High’s JAG, or Jobs for American Graduates program turned their collective attention to Symphony Animal Foundation on Saturday as part of its ongoing community service projects.

Students raised more than $600 to collect pet food and supplies bound for the shelter, from a recent fundraiser.

Additionally, the program set up a challenge, where area businesses put out collection boxes for donated pet food and supplies.

JAG specialist Candice Mitchell said the outcome exceeded her expectations.

“We were able to donate more than 1,100 pounds of dog and cat food, and we have almost 500 pounds of cat litter that’s been donated,” she said. “We received lots of dog toys and supplies. We wanted to raise awareness so the community would support this agency. We believe it’s important that they are a no-kill shelter.”

Symphony volunteer Jim Amelse actually lives on the property.

He said he and others at the site were grateful for the efforts of the students.

“It was really important for us that the students came out and volunteered their time,” he said. “It was good to get them to know what we do and it’s just a great feeling that we had.”

While taking a break from their work, Eugene Finkelstein, JAG president, spoke about his experience in the program. He visited Washington D.C. earlier this year.

“The JAG program is amazing because it’s a great way to come together and do important things together,” he said. “It opened my eyes to my future and since I’m the president of the JAG program, I have to show leadership.”

JAG Vice President of Civic Development Tyler Blankenship said he too has benefited from participating in the program.

“JAG has really helped me a lot and made me realize that I need to take steps to further my education in order to get the career that I want, so I’ve been taking those steps as of late,” he said. “I was able to get a job through NyE Communities Coalition and I work at the high school. That’s really helped me a lot, because it’s a good way to get my foot in the door.”

Regarding Saturday’s project, Blankenship said the group had a great time hanging out with the animals at the facility.

“All of the animals were awesome and so adorable and fun to be around,” he said. “The Saitta Trudeau car dealership provided a big donation and it means a lot that a big business here in town that really doesn’t need to do it, did it anyway just because they want to help out the community. We voted on this particular project and everybody wanted to do this for the animal foundation.”

Aside from exercising and socializing with the animals, the students performed routine maintenance around the facility.

Mitchell, meanwhile said several animals were actually adopted out on Saturday.

“Some of my students love cats so they spent time in the cat room and socialized with them. Some cats were very shy, and they actually found homes. The students really made a difference on Saturday.”

Sponsored by the AT&T Corporation, Mitchell said the JAG program will continue at the high school as a result.

“They wanted for us to do the business challenge and do community service projects,” she said. “JAG is actually a nonprofit and it functions off of donations from other businesses and corporations. AT&T wanted students to do this as part of their community involvement projects.”

Mitchell also said she and the JAG students are now looking for additional community service endeavors for future projects.

“We are always looking for other community projects to get involved in and businesses can call the high school at 727-7737, extension 2210, which is my classroom phone and I am available during school hours. We are looking for anything where the students can develop job skills such as internships and volunteering where they can be leaders in the community. We are very wide open as far as community service project varieties.”

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