Popular new club benefits local animal shelters

Andrea Hefferan | Staff Writer

Mason students are putting their hands together to help all kinds of creatures.

Animal Shelter Alliance (ASA) is a new club dedicated to providing resources to animals in need. Every other Friday, nearly 100 members, from middle schoolers to seniors, meet up to make much-needed supplies.

Senior Amanda Cheng, co-president, had the idea for the club when she went to a pet store and noticed how overcrowded it was. Soon after, she reached out to animal shelters to see how she could make a difference.

“One of their common problems is that they’re taking in way too many animals, and at the same time they don’t have enough resources,” Cheng said. “I tried to look for clubs in Mason that dealt with animal awareness, but there weren’t any; I might as well try and start my own.”

At each meeting, the members of the club make toys and treats to donate to various local shelters. Cheng believes that making each item by hand is an important part of the experience.

“Part of it is just that sentimental value,” Cheng said. “It’s not materialistic. We’re not just giving materials and donating that to them. We’re putting in thought and effort and craft skills.”

This aspect of the club allows each member to contribute to the cause. Sophomore Eleonora Julmy was excited to be a part of a club where she felt she was making an impact.

“It’s been pretty cool to see that we’re actually making a difference,” Julmy said. “We made

over 300 toys and treats (at the last meeting) which is really cool.”

The club puts on many events in order to support the animal shelters. On Halloween, the club will be conducting a drive, which Cheng explained requires participation from the community in order to succeed.

“Each shelter gave us wish lists of materials they lack, like rugs, leashes, paper towels. We basically ask around the community for donations,” Cheng said. “Then on Halloween we will go around and pick up whatever is left on the porch.”

In addition to the regular meetings, the club is planning to take a tour of a local animal shelter. Senior Lauren Han, co-president, said that this enables the members to see just how much their help is needed.

“People don’t really think about what goes behind a shelter, and they don’t see how much work it takes,” Han said. “A lot of the shelters that we’re partnered with right now, they’re nonprofit, they’re donation-based, and it’s really hard for them to be able to effectively help all of the animals that they want to. I think having a tour would be able to expose people to the realities of how hard it is for shelters to function, and how they actually need our help, because people just assume that, ‘oh, they’re in shelters, so those animals are fine now.’ But they’re actually not.”

ASA is partnered with ten shelters, all of which are no more than an hour from Mason. Senior Connie Mi, treasurer, said the club opened her eyes to how close to home this issue truly is.

“I realized just how much we neglect a lot of pets and animals in our area,” Mi said. “Just in our area there are around five shelters. And that just surprised me; how many animals were being abused in our area, an area that we usually consider to be relatively wealthy and relatively good. It really shocked me.”

Mi hopes that ASA will continue long after the current leaders have left the high school.

“It’s a new club, but I really hope that it’s something that will continue in the future,” Mi said. “I’m a senior, and I just hope that when I come back, it will still be here, going strong, still helping out the community.”