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West Hartford Fourth-Grader Helps Shelter Animals

Max Maniatis, a fourth grader at Bugbee School in West Hartford has started a special community outreach project to help shelter animals. Courtesy photo

A school reading project inspired Bugbee fourth-grader Max Maniatis to get involved with a local foundation that helps homeless animals.

Max Maniatis, a fourth grader at Bugbee School in West Hartford has started a special community outreach project to help shelter animals. Courtesy photo

Max Maniatis, a fourth grader at Bugbee School in West Hartford has started a special community outreach project to help shelter animals. Courtesy photo

By Ronni Newton

A homeless cat and a book about a lost cat have inspired a fourth-grader at West Hartford’s Bugbee Elementary to turn a school assignment into a charity project for an animal rescue and adoption center.

Max Maniatis' 'Gumball project.' Courtesy photo

Max Maniatis’ ‘Gumball project.’ Courtesy photo

Bugbee Principal Kelly Brouse said that Max Maniatis, a fourth-grader in Dahlia Cherny’s class, had just finished reading a book about a lost cat when he and his family found a homeless cat on the side of the road in Hartford – right as the frigid weather was setting in last month.

“In an effort to save the cat they took him,” Brouse said. Max named the cat “TomCat” and with his family’s help started searching for a shelter.

“Every contact proved to be at capacity, but one group made an extra space to take TomCat in and find him a home,” said Brouse. That shelter – the Simon Foundation in Bloomfield – welcomed TomCat.

In Cherny’s class, students complete book reports that are called “Gumball projects” after finishing independent reading books. Instead of just doing a book report, Max decided to do his “Gumball project” both on the book and the Simon Foundation, said Brouse.

Max's classmates, Zachary Anderson and Maddie Peterson, select slips of paper with requested donations to the Simon Foundation. Courtesy photo

Max’s classmates, Zachary Anderson and Maddie Peterson, select slips of paper with requested donations to the Simon Foundation. Courtesy photo

Brouse said that Max, with the help of other family members, put together a list of items that The Simon Foundation needed on slips of paper. Bugbee students were invited to help out by taking one of the slips and procuring the needed item. Max and his family will deliver the donations directly to the Simon Foundation, Brouse said.

Max also helped make bracelets and bookmarks to use an incentives for other students to participate in the donation effort.

Brouse said that Cherny “was blown away by the effort and enthusiasm Max displayed as he took a simple book report to the next level to help a local foundation.”

Brouse was also impressed and shared the story so that Max’s efforts could be celebrated. “I could not be prouder to see that students are learning authentically how we all have the responsibility to use the skills and knowledge acquired at school to positively influence the world around them,” Brouse said.

Additional donations (either financial or animal care items) can be made to the Simon Foundation located at 120 Rescue Lane, Bloomfield, CT 06002. Click here for more information about the Simon Foundation.

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