11/10/11 — Students make toys for shelter animals

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Students make toys for shelter animals

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 10, 2011 1:46 PM

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Family and consumer science teacher Darlene DeBruine helps Liyah Foye with her toy at Rosewood Middle School.

Darlene DeBruine, a family and consumer science teacher at Rosewood Middle School, is always looking for creative ways to teach her students.

One year, her classes made pillows for cancer patients at Kitty Askins Hospice Center.

When it came time to decide upon a project for the sewing unit recently, she thought about visits she'd made to the animal shelter to find a pet.

Seeing all the dogs and cats waiting to be adopted sparked a thought.

"With the holidays, I told (my students) dogs have feelings, too," she said. "How would we comfort them? Maybe with a blanket.

"Then I thought, why don't we just make them toys? I thought it would be fun for (the animals) to have something to play with."

Ms. DeBruine had her seventh- and eighth-grade classes create basic patterns, drawing either a box, for a square pillow, or a bone-shaped design. Then they did a trial run with the sewing machine to become familiar with the technique.

"We always try to get them to sew a pattern on paper before we work with needle and thread," she explained.

The teacher was especially fortunate, she said, when she began searching for fabric.

"I went to Walmart on Spence Avenue and they donated the material for the project," she said. The cotton fabric featured, fittingly enough, pictures of cats and dogs.

Following the practice exercise, students cut out fabric and embarked on the actual task -- operating a foot pedal of the sewing machine and guiding the two pieces beneath the needle.

Daniel Reynolds was very pleased with his work, surveying the outcome as he began putting stuffing in his pillow.

"When I had to practice for this, that was hard because we had to turn it," the seventh-grader said. "Since I had a square, it was kind of easy. I thought I was gonna mess up on it."

Derek Neal's pillow was in the shape of a bone, tricky, he said, "because of the curves." Fortunately, he said, "We did it on a piece of paper without the thread" beforehand.

Tanner Bradley said he chose the bone-shaped pattern in honor of his own dog.

Brandon Crocker admitted he had been apprehensive at first. "I'm gonna sew my fingers together because I don't know how to sew," he said.

Liyah Foye said she was used to watching her mother and grandmother sew but doing it herself was a new experience. "It's really challenging for me, all of it," she said of the project.

"I think it's actually kind of fun but it's really hard," said Austin Perkins.

His classmate, Derrick Hartley, the only eighth-grader in the group, admitted it's a good thing for a young man to know how to sew.

"Because, let's say you were trying to sew up your shirt or something, some people might just put some tape on it," he said.

"Say you had a big hole in your stuff. How are you gonna sew it?" added Austin.

Adrienne Best and Carrie Beckert were also pleased with the outcome.

"I liked it, all of it," said Carrie.

And even though it was a fun class project, the group agreed they enjoyed being able to do something for the animals at the shelter.

"There's some of them (animals) that come from really bad homes, owners have to give them up, they can't afford to give them toys," Liyah said. "They'll really appreciate it."

Approximately 40 toys will be picked up next week by the animal shelter, Ms. DeBruine said.