FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Students and staff at Washington Elementary gathered at their "family meeting" Monday morning to discuss their upcoming community service project through the Rotary Club's EarlyAct Club, a community-serviced based club for the 3rd through 5th grade students.
Monica Taylor is a first grade teacher at the school. She's been helping organize the community service projects.
"We have done projects with local homeless shelters. We have done things for different animal shelters in the past and this year we just felt like it was time to focus in on our veterans," Taylor explained.
Their new project is benefitting Our Turn To Serve. President David Price explained their mission is to help those veterans suffering from the repercussions of combat by providing them with trained service dogs.
Harris said, "22 veterans, on average, that commit suicide everyday in this country, which is just a terrible tragedy and we feel like with our turn to serve if we can help with the emotions of those veterans who suffer from those problems that we might be able to prevent some of those suicides locally."
How will the students be able to help? Two EE's Winery is willing to donate $1,000 to go towards dog training on the schools behalf as long as all students do 22 reps of an exercise everyday for 22 days.
Students got the chance to meet Gunner, who is one of those service dogs in training. He and his trainer Mike Rowland of the Animal Training and Development Center were on hand on Monday to help the students learn how they are going to help a local veteran.
Rowland said the dogs can be trained to do various things. He said, "Some of these veterans have injuries and we can help them balance themselves and use the dogs to brace if they're losing balance. We can help remind them to take their medication. We can train them to help them when they're anxious or they're sad."
Whether it's helping veterans or helping animals, Washington Elementary and the Rotary Club want students to take the lesson of giving back with them when they leave school.
Taylor said, "For them to see that it's important to serve the community now, as they get older, hopefully that will generalize as they get older and they will continue to serve their community as adults."