While most kids her age dream of fame and fortune in the years ahead, Jenna Birkevaag aspires to own and operate an animal sanctuary.
“I’ve always been an animal lover,” said Jenna, and eighth-grader at the Gates Intermediate School. “I’ve had pets pretty much my whole life.”
It may be awhile before Jenna can get her animal sanctuary up and running, but in the meantime she has found another way to help animals – she is continuing the “Luna’s Cat and Dog Can Food Challenge.”
Luna is Jenna’s golden retriever.
This is the third year for the pet food drive, which asks students to bring in a can of cat or dog food to be donated to the Scituate Animal Shelter. To make things interesting and fun, a good-natured competition has been started among the classrooms at the Jenkins Elementary School – where Jenna was a student when she started the food drive – to see which classroom could donate the most cans. The competition is carried over to a rivalry between the Jenkins and the Gates.
This year the food drive runs from May 8 to June 2.
Jenna’s parents, David and Mary, have been encouraging of the food drive challenge, as have Jenna’s older sisters. The family has matched the amount raised by the schools for the food drive.
Several local businesses have offered to provide gift certificates to the ‘winning’ classroom as an incentive to bring in more dog or cat food cans.
PetSmart in Hanover has offered to take 50 percent off of the cat and dog food the family is matching.
The school that collects the most cans will receive $100 for the student council from the Birkevaag family.
In addition to some great prizes, such as ice cream gift certificates from Nona’s Homemade Ice Cream, the winning classroom from each school will receive certificates from the Scituate Animal Shelter along with a VIP tour of the animal shelter.
Last year the two schools collected 1,300 items, with the Jenkins coming up ahead with 1,143 cans. With the Birkevaag family match, the total amount of food donated to the animal shelter was 2,702 cans.
“We are so very appreciative of Jenna and her annual food drive,” said Maryann Regan, Executive Director of the Scituate Animal Shelter. “It is because of people like her that we are able to continue to do the work we do. Her thoughtfulness and kindness will directly help animals in our care. It is so appreciated.”
The response this year from the students has been “really good,” according to Jenna.
“I think people in Scituate are animal lovers,” she said. “A lot of kids want to volunteer at the animal shelter, but they’re too young, like me.”
The idea for the food collection came about after Jenna asked her parents if they would adopt another dog – the family currently has two.
“I said no to that, but told her if she could figure something out to help, we could do it,” David said.
The teachers were onboard with the idea,…