Kids at Fort Worth homeless shelter do their part to help dogs

Brandy, who is 10, was looking for a little help with her spelling.

"How do you spell adopt?" she asked after writing the first two letters on the side of an oversize cardboard box.

Brandy, her twin brother, Randy, and an 11-year-old "teammate" named Promise were drawing faces of dogs and adding phrases such as "Adopt Dogs. They Need Shelter" and "Adopt Dogs and Change Their Life."

The box will be used as a receptacle for donations of dog food from 8 to 11:45 a.m. Saturday at the Fort Woof dog park, with the proceeds going to Homeward Bound and other animal rescue groups.

The trio and other children involved in the project will also help the park's environment by spreading decomposed granite to fill in holes and muddy areas caused by scampering dogs.

But what makes this project distinct is that the children live in a homeless shelter. They are residents of the Lowdon-Schutts women and children's building, part of the Presbyterian Night Shelter complex in Fort Worth.

And they are participating in the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee's SLANT 45 program, which encourages elementary-school-age children to give back to their community.

"I heard about the SLANT 45 program from a friend of a friend," said team coach Drew Myers, who has been a night shelter volunteer for two years and runs his own business, E Partners in Giving. "I fell in love with the idea of leaning on kids to give back.

"And I thought it would be neat to engage these kids at the shelter who probably aren't being asked because they are considered so-called charity cases. But it's neat seeing these kids stepping up and to find out what tugs at their heart."

He learned that children and dogs are as compatible as peanut butter and jelly.

"When everything else is good in a home, the next thing a family gets is a dog," Myers said. "It reflects stability."

Naturally, the children at the shelter want to help dogs looking for a permanent home and family.

"I've been here three years, and we've had a lot of programs for kids," said Amanda Henderson, a case manager at the shelter.

"And this is the one they have enjoyed the most."

Myers added: "We went through everything with the kids: helping animals, the environment, the homeless, the elderly. We came up with the dog park, where the kids can be directly involved."

Henderson said the shelter is using Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about the pet food drive.

On Thursday, the kids said they were excited about the field trip to the park. They described the SLANT 45 T-shirts and books they had received.

Promise said her family had a Chihuahua.

Brandy confessed that she isn't really fond of fully grown dogs but likes puppies.

Randy, on the other hand, said he'll be interacting with the big dogs at the park.

The kids all busily drew dog faces, flowers and blades of grass on the sides of the cardboard box.

Randy wrote "Dogs are Super" and inquired about his penmanship.

"Dogs," he said, "are better than girls."

PETE ALFANO, 817-390-7985

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