Just like the dogs from a Columbia nonprofit dog training facility are always up to any task, area schools decided to step up and help the organization during its time of need.
After Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS) flooded with several inches of raw sewage Aug. 7 –just 10 days after moving in – several Richland 2 schools have launched Dollars for Dogs, a fundraising campaign. Among participating schools are Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary, Blythewood Middle, Longleaf Middle, Spring Valley High, Condor Elementary, Pontiac Elementary and Clemson Road Child Development.
Sherry Blevins, a special education teacher at Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary, came up with the idea to start the campaign, and principal Karen Beaman challenged other schools to join in.
Donations are being collected Tuesday and Wednesday in Lonnie B. Nelson’s morning car rider drop-off line from 7:30-8 a.m.They also are being collected in the schools’ front offices Tuesday and Wednesday.
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PAALS executive director Jennifer Rogers said her organization has an established relationship with Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary, hosting summer camps at the school and having Roberta the service dog regularly work with special education students.
PAALS has done some fundraising online but is still facing more than $100,000 in repairs after the sewage backup. The organization’s insurance policy did not cover sewage backups, and the sewage company only paid for an initial cleanup and spray because the building did not have a required backflow preventer.
Rogers said PAALS has not started repairs on the building yet, as they are still waiting on diagnostics and are talking with people who have offered in-kind services that may end up saving money in the end.
Rogers said PAALS cannot train the next generation of puppies now because of the lack of space, and they cannot be housed in different homes like rescue dogs. She said trainers have to work with them in an environment conducive to learning, with some having to do so at their own homes.
She said this is unfortunate due to a spike in applications and interviews, as it already has more requests for dogs so far than it had all of last year.
Rogers was hoping to launch an after-school program for at-risk children but instead must focus on fundraising.
“Instead of creating programs for our at-risk community,” she said, “now we have to put walls back together.”
Dollars for Dogs
Tuesday and Wednesday initiatives at Richland 2 schools
▪ Drop off donations in the car rider line at Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary School.
▪ Donations accepted in front offices of Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary, Blythewood Middle, Longleaf Middle, Spring Valley High, Condor Elementary, Pontiac Elementary and Clemson Road Child Development – all in Richland 2.
▪ Donate online at gofundme.com/paals, at paals.org or mail to P.O. Box 25679, Columbia SC 29224.