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Vernon Hills High club supports Canine Companions
By Sarah Toomey | Daily Herald Staff

Marla Pierce takes money from teacher Andrew Westerman as students and faculty in the Interact Club at Vernon Hills High School held a bake sale to benefit Canine Companions for Independence.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Sophomores Neviya Chacko and Karly Cimmarusti pet service dog Kiowa as students and faculty in the Interact Club at Vernon Hills High School held a bake sale to benefit Canine Companions for Independence.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Students and faculty in the Interact Club at Vernon Hills High School held a bake sale to benefit Canine Companions for Independence Thursday at Vernon Hills High School. Goodie bags filled with dog treats shaped like holiday cookies were a big hit.

 

Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

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Published: 1/14/2010 12:01 AM

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Vernon Hills High School students didn't forget their four-legged friends when it came to the holidays this year.

The Interact Club's annual holiday cookie fundraiser brought in $281 for Canine Companions for Independence. About 200 gift bags filled with homemade dog treats, cut out and decorated just like human holiday cookies, were sold before winter break in the school's foyer.

It's an event that gets bigger and better every year, according to Service Dog Committee sponsor and school psychologist Nancy Skeffington.

"There are always tables set up near the cafeteria selling items for various organizations during the students' lunch periods, but we are prohibited from selling baked goods that would compete with the food sold in the cafeteria," she said. "So I thought we could sell baked goods for dogs, and then came up with the idea of making them look just like holiday cookies. The first one was held two years ago, and we sold out quickly in the first hour. I realized that many people want to have a little holiday gift for their dog, and we increased the number of bags quite a bit last year and this year. We had some left over, and those are donated to an area shelter to give something nice to the homeless dogs in our community."

The students and some staff members baked the treats at home. The cookies were decorated at school.

"It is a fun event, just like a regular cookie decorating party with snacks and holiday music," Skeffington said.

Skeffington hatched the idea for the fundraiser a few years ago when looking to help CCI, a group funded entirely by donations, because she has interested in the concept of service dogs, due to her background working with children with disabilities.

"I used to have a therapy dog that I took to work with me and I saw how much she helped the students, even though they only saw her once a week," Skeffington said. "It takes CCI two years and about $50,000 to raise and train each service dog, and they are then placed with a person with a disability at no charge. An army of devoted volunteers is the backbone of this organization, and I wanted our students to be part of such a worthy cause."

The Interact Club is a nationwide community service club for high school students. The students select various causes to support during the school year. Helping CCI is one of the Vernon Hills projects, with a special committee of about 15 students devoted to it. There are about 30 total students in the Interact Club.