- March 8, 2023
Warm dog kisses and giggles filled the carpool sidewalk of Cypress Creek Elementary as Sophie’s Circle, a community dog rescue organization, received $850 in food and donations from students. Kathy Blackman, founder of Sophie's Circle, and staff member Mona Dera brought Thomas, a black pit bull mix, and Juno, a fluffy husky, to collect the goods from three classes.
The pet food drive was organized by fifth-grade teacher Michelle Phelan and supported by teachers Stacie Youket (second grade) and Michelle Larrimore (first grade). Larrimore said the drive teaches students affection and empathy. The affection was clear all over the students' faces as they happily received slobbery “Thomas kisses" from the pit bull.
The classes gave thank you cards along with the donations, which they had been collecting since the beginning of the school year.
“You don’t know how much we appreciate it when the community stop and says thank you,” Blackman said.
Sophie’s Circle is based out of New Smyrna Beach but serves all of Volusia County with the only pet food bank. The nonprofit began with one dog named Sophie, a husky with heartworms, who was rescued from the quarantined, to-be-euthanized section of the Southeast Volusia Humane Society by Blackman.
“In a home, you are getting enrichment, love, care," she said. "You are treated like the rest of the family.”
The pet pantry makes a weekly distribution to pet owners who cannot afford their animal. The organization relies on donations to support their goals.
“For 11 years, we have been counting on the kindness of the community to help us out, and it’s never run out yet,” Blackman said.