If happiness is a warm puppy there were plenty of good feelings to go around on Dec. 9 when the Hamilton Association for Volunteering, Outreach and Charity (HAVOC) welcomed the Rome Humane Society and 10 of its furry residents for “Paws to Relax” study break in the Events Barn.
HAVOC events co-coordinator Alana Christopher ’14 reported that 100 students signed up to spend some down time with the dogs, cats and kittens. The unique study break had a dual purpose. “HAVOC sponsored this event to raise awareness about the different types of volunteer sites we visit,” Christopher said. “We send weekly trips to the Rome Humane Society, and would love to get as many people involved with volunteering as possible.” (See Utica Observer-Dispatch video here).
Mackenzie Theobald '14, Christopher's co-coordinator, described the other purpose behind the event. “I think a lot of students, like myself, miss their pets and are stressed because of finals. Paws to Relax let students come and play with animals in need of some attention. I don't know who enjoyed the event more -- the students or the animals,” she added.
Studies have shown that dogs—and other pets—have great health benefits for people. Pets have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve people’s psychological well-being and self-esteem.
“Finals week is an incredibly stressful time for everyone and we know people don't have time to go off campus to volunteer,” Christopher explained. “It’s also important that the animals have social interaction with people. Playing with cats and dogs can be a great stress reliever,” she noted.
HAVOC is trying to help raise money for the Rome Humane Society, which hopes to build a new $1 million shelter. “In organizing events for HAVOC I'm always amazed by how willingly students donate their time,” Theobald said. “But, I was blown away by their generosity. For this fundraiser we only took donations, yet in the span of three hours we collected over $400, all of which will be donated to RHS.”
Christopher concluded, “I think the students really enjoyed it; many people asked if we would be doing it again next semester!”