Kids and pets go together like peanut butter and jelly. No wonder there are so many great ways for kids and pets to spend time together through SPCA programs. While you students are going back to school, signing up for football, and joining new clubs, you should also think about the ways you can help animals during your free time. The funny thing is: helping animals could help you, too.


Here are some ways kids can make a difference:


Join the jrSPCA

The jrSPCA is open to students in sixth through 12th grade. The club usually meets on the third Wednesday evening of the month at the SPCA on Willow Run Road. In the meetings, the students plan for four annual fundraisers. Sometimes there is a guest speaker, like vet tech Kate Koelker. Ms. Koelker came to the April meeting to talk about pet health. The club members even got to help examine puppies and look at stuff under a microscope!


On Wednesday, the jrSCPA will have a “Show and Tell” meeting at 6 p.m. Members are encouraged to bring pets from home as long as they are up to date on vaccinations and play nicely with others. The students will also talk about the SPCA’s big, upcoming fundraiser, Barkaritaville and the Twilight Walk for Animals. Last year, we raised the second largest amount of money of any of the Twilight Walk teams. This year, we are aiming for No. 1!


Be creative

There is a part of Barkaritaville and the Twilight Walk for Animals especially for kids. It’s a sidewalk chalk competition called Art al Fresco. You can sign up today to draw on a 4-foot by 4-foot square the day of Barkaritaville on Oct. 18. Trophies and other prizes will be given away in three age groups. Details and registration can be found at www.LetLoveLive.org.


Read and relax

The SPCA staff and volunteers work hard to keep the dogs in the shelter calm. You can help just by bringing your reading or study guides to the SPCA and doing homework with a dog or cat. The sound of your voice will relax the dog, and studying will help you make better grades. We promise we won’t let any dogs eat your homework! Just come by the SPCA during business hours (Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and one of the pet care specialists will match you up with a pet.


Volunteer

You have to be at least 16 years old to be a regular volunteer at the SPCA. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Volunteers can train dogs, pet cats, help maintain the facility or work in the thrift shops. Some of these activities are great practice for jobs later on and the hours you contribute are tracked through the volunteer program. Volunteer hours look great on resumes and college applications. So far, I’ve put in more than 150 hours at the SPCA! You can sign up to volunteer at www.LetLoveLive.org on the volunteer page.


Start saving

Even really little kids can help the animals. The SPCA now has free doggy banks available for kids who would like to rescue a dog of their own one day. If they cannot have a pet, they can save to sponsor a pet for someone else to take home. All you have to do is fill up the bank with change and bring it to the SPCA. Then you can pick out your pet or pick out the pet you would like to sponsor. Just Thursday, a nice kid brought in his bank and sponsored a dog named Tater. Isn’t that awesome? This young man is a superhero for homeless pets and you can be, too! Come by the SPCA at 199 Willow Run Road to pick up your bank today!


Spay and neuter

My mom always tells me that when she was a kid, she and my Uncle Reed would roll around in the floorboard of their old, orange Volkswagen van. While it was moving. Without seat belts! Can you believe it? Their generation changed the way we think about seat belts. Our generation can change the way people think about spaying and neutering pets. Are your pets spayed or neutered? Ask your parents. If they aren’t, call the SPCA at 803-648-6863 and make an appointment today. It’s easy and not expensive. Plus, it can make your pets happier and healthier, too.


In the words of Will Rogers, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” So get started today. Even the smallest of us can make a big difference in the lives of animals!


Blair Sims is an eighth grader at Kennedy Middle School. He is the president of the Junior SPCA, a member of the Youth Wing at Aiken Community Playhouse and a golfer with the First Tee of Aiken.