One of my favorite things about Ruff Start is the fact that it enables me to bring quite a few of my passions to the forefront of my professional life. The most obvious one is, of course, saving the lives of animals in need. But one of the underlying reasons I wanted to create a rescue was because I wanted to use it as a spearhead to further the future of animal welfare. I’ve always thought the best way to change the future is by educating the future – as in, kiddos!

Thus, the Ruff Start Rescue Education Program was born in 2013 – just three short years after the rescue officially launched. The program has blossomed over the years and still has lots of growth ahead of it thanks to the Education Committee’s devotion to this cause which is so near and dear to my heart. However, as a result of the pandemic, many of the activities we put on for local groups were put on an extended hold. As a result, the current committee had to get creative to still make a difference in the lives of pets and kids all throughout the state.

Their solution? Instead of holding in-person junior volunteer events, we’ve been giving families the opportunity to bring those activities into their homes by creating Kids Companion Animal Kits!

Kids Companion Animal Kits are fun kits designed to make it easy for kids of all ages to make toys for dogs and cats at home or on the go. Kits are available for pickup at the Ruff Start office in Princeton for free and are an excellent enrichment tool for the companion animals in our care – or yours! Shipping options are also available for a small fee if you are not local to the Princeton area but would like to partake in this fun activity that benefits both children and companion animals.

While we do not require the completed toys be mailed or brought back to the rescue, the dogs and cats in our care do appreciate receiving goodies after experiencing a ruff start to their lives if the kids want to give back. Sending kits back creates a good learning opportunity for children to understand the importance of rescue and how they can positively impact the lives of companion animals just by being kind.

We also offer our assembly kit instruction PDFs free of charge on our website so you can create the kits in your home after purchasing the items needed. Kit construction is also an awesome activity for daycare groups and scout troops, as well as past adopters – the possibilities are endless as long as littles who want to help animals are involved.

Once you receive your kits, please tag us and use the hashtag #RuffStartRescueKidsKits so we can see your kids in action bettering the lives of our rescue animals!

To date, we’ve had just over 100 requests for these kits and would love to make this a long-term option for groups that want to participate in the future. As a result, we’re always looking for people (including businesses, organizations, and corporations) to sponsor a kit! Supplies are available on our Amazon wishlist if you’d like to donate to the cause. Each kit costs roughly $5 in materials, but the joy it brings our animals and the education opportunity incentive for young children who are involved are truly priceless.

We anticipate these kits will only continue to grow in popularity as families delve deeper into distance learning and colder weather increases our likelihood of staying inside. Get yours by emailing our Education Committee at education@ruffstartrescue.org or visiting www.blog.ruffstartrescue.org/kids-kits/ today!