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Mace and Crown | May 24, 2018

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Student Volunteers Pitch in at Norfolk SPCA

T.J. Thompson
Staff Writer

Nothing could be more irresistible than helping animals in a shelter on a Saturday morning. Students active with Circle K International pitched in at Norfolk SPCA on Feb. 25, giving back to the Norfolk animal community.

Junior Jason Fallen was full of smiles and cheer as he assisted kennel attendant Olivia Mendoza with breakfast preparation for a dozen dogs currently residing at the Norfolk SPCA.

“Volunteering breaks the routine of being an upper level student. It allows me to go out and see that I make an impact in the world,” Fallen said.

The community service experience is one portion of an Old Dominion education. In his 2016 State of the University Address, President John R. Broderick noted that there were 534,000 volunteer hours logged through the university during the 2015-16 academic year.

One method to make these volunteer hours more enjoyable is to share time with animals in need. Circle K International board member Melissa Flores described her organization as focused on volunteering and finds her time at the Norfolk SPCA enjoyable and rewarding.

“We volunteer with [them] throughout the year,” Flores said. Most of her volunteer hours during the day were logged in a cat room.

She worked with fellow students and shelter staff to help complete the daily task of ensuring the comfort of the cats while in residence. Student volunteers were split up and sent to multiple areas, rotating throughout the morning as chores were marked off.

Another pair of students were assigned to the laundry room. Tiara Christian and Rachel Lukwago accepted the daunting task of washing, drying, folding and organizing the laundry.

When staff begin their workday at the shelter, they move the dogs outside and start the tasks of cleaning all the interior dog kennels, which include removing and washing any items the dog may have soiled overnight.

The laundry room was chock full of both clean and dirty items. Both the washing machine and dryer had items in them and the racks were stacked with fresh blankets. Christian and Lukwago dove right in, making a dent in the never-ending task of cleaning soiled dog beds and blankets.

As tasks were completed by the students, they sought their next tasks from shelter staff who rely upon volunteers to help them accomplish this morning routine. This crew was led by Jillian Talley, who is the volunteer and outreach coordinator for Norfolk SPCA.

Talley’s crew of volunteers had to make sure that the adoption areas were presentable and clean by 11 a.m., which was opening time on Saturday morning. This process included placing food and water in the kennels after they were all cleaned and sanitized.

Kennel technician Shannon Burke, a member of the staff and a senior, helped guide her fellow students through this worklist. Burke also discussed her love of working with the animals and plans on working at the shelter.

“I wanted to be a veterinarian but after working here, I want to work with shelter animals directly,” Burke said. She hopes to work with the animals in the shelter operations scope, versus only providing medical care.

Talley and her staff, along with student volunteers, completed the morning tasks with playtime to spare. Playtime with Deedee and Cody, both dogs who are available for adoption, brought smiles to everyone’s faces. To the student volunteers, this was the biggest reward of the morning.

Those interested in volunteering or adopting a pet from the Norfolk SPCA should visit their website at or call 757-622-3319. ODU Circle K International meets Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m. in room 1036 of Constant Hall.