With creativity and compassion, students at Papillion Middle School are doing what they can to help animals who need it most.

This week, the PMS Art Club started a service learning project in partnership with Town & Country Humane Society in Papillion.

Eight club members are working to create clay sculptures and abstract paintings of about 60 animals currently living in the facility as a way to inspire people to adopt them.

They will be donated to Town & Country Humane Society and given to the people who adopt the animal.

Rhonda Earith, a Papillion Middle School art teacher, said she hopes her students’ art compels people to get out and adopt instead of shop for animals. 

“It’s just a motivational way to get them to adopt an animal and they get a special one-of-a-kind artwork to go with it,” Earith said.

Students taking part in the project will have until the end of February to complete each piece of art, which will include sculptures and paintings of dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rats and rabbits.

“We are learning that it’s good to give back,” Earith said. “They can give their artwork, the stuff that they really care about to someone else to make their day. It’s all about being kind.”

Students work on their projects every Tuesday and Thursday morning before class starts.

Despite an extra early morning, eighth grader Presleigh Ekermans is happy to spread awareness of animals living in shelters.

“This is important to me because recently I heard a lot of animal shelters have been overpopulated and I just want to help them find a home where they are loved and cared for,” Ekermans said.

Currently, Ekermans is working on a cat sculpture and then she will sculpt another animal or complete a painting. 

“I just want to help the animals,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know that there are so many animals that need homes.”

To those who are interested in adopting animals, Ekermans has a word of advice: “Make sure you have the room for the animal and you will provide it with the right care. Just make sure it’s going to enjoy being with you,” she said.

One of Earith's favorite parts of the project is seeing students like Ekermans be so invested when it comes to helping the community.

In addition to their creations, art students are working to collect items for the facility including food, toys, blankets and anything else that may be of use to animals and those taking care of them.

“They are very excited about it,” Earith said. “We’re hoping it will snowball into something bigger.”

Earith and her students will collect donations until the end of next month. To donate, drop off items at the school, 423 S. Washington St., Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“We have so much and so many people have so little, like those poor little animals that are stuck there,” Earith said.

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