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Coolest Pet Contest raises money for SAW Tutoring Network

The Coolest Pet Contest raises money for the SAW Tutoring Network.
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 10:55 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The past two years have been very challenging for families and children, especially when it comes to education. That’s why the Shenandoah Valley Kiwanis Club used its Coolest Pet Contest to help raise money for the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Tutoring Network.

Dexter was voted the Coolest Pet in the Shenandoah Valley. He wore his best smile to the award ceremony even though he had to leave his home to claim his new title.

“He would prefer to be on his favorite couch, on top of his pillows, sleeping or staring at the neighbors,” Joey Lambert, Dexter’s human said.

A dog named Ricochet came in second place, followed by an alpaca named George Clooney.

Thanks to the 49 entries of amazing pets, the votes they received, and a matching grant from the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, the contest was able to raise $10,000 for the SAW Tutoring Network. It’s a free program for students K-12 that was started during the pandemic.

“We saw students slowing down with their academic progress. The lack of time in the classroom had a major impact on that, but also families were under a lot of stress,” Sarah Mendoca, founder of the SAW Tutoring Network, said.

Volunteer tutors meet with students virtually to help with homework, test prep and skills needed to be successful academically. Even when students returned to the classroom, there was still a need for the tutoring network.

“Students had still kind of lost ground, and we saw they wanted to keep coming because they realized the value of having that individualized attention that our tutors can give,” Mendoca explained.

Right now, the tutoring network serves the entire SAW area by working out of the Staunton-Augusta YMCA. The nonprofit says it’s looking forward to using this money to find new ways to engage with the community to ultimately be able to help more kids.

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