“Pennies for Frisky’s” Campaign

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In September of 2012 I proposed that our Sunday school take on a community project. We chose Frisky’s Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary (www.friskys.org). Since this five-acre, non-profit wildlife rehabilitation center in Woodstock, Maryland does not receive county, state, or federal funding, we decided to raise money through a “Pennies for Frisky’s” campaign.

Frisky’s does the good work of taking in wildlife that has been injured, orphaned, abandoned, or displaced. While Frisky’s does not accept cats and dogs, it does shelter abandoned domestic pets such as rabbits, hamsters, birds, and guinea pigs until a loving, lifetime home can be found for them. Additionally, Frisky’s provides a safe haven for primates, who live out their lives at the center and are not adopted out.

Throughout our Sunday school year, we talk about the natural world, animals, trees, our responsibility toward living things, and the mythical qualities that can be associated in identifying with animals: “If I were an animal, I’d be a bird; what would you be – why?”

Camille, a long-time student, cat lover and animal advocate, decorated a “Pennies for Frisky’s” can. The students took turns passing it around among the adults attending each Sunday and sometimes left it in the lobby during coffee and snacks time. We really didn’t collect a lot of pennies though. People mostly donated dollars, and by the time we ended our campaign in May, we had raised over 100 dollars.

A wonderful event that tied into our Frisky’s project took place at the end of the year when member Kathleen Wilsbach, who is the Maryland/DC/Northern Virginia Chapter Manager for the House Rabbits Society, joined us for a class exploring house rabbit life. Students looked at the world from the rabbit’s point of view, even role-playing encounters with prey. Through an interview with Kathleen, we found out more about rabbit behaviors such as the well-known binky, sometimes termed the “happy bunny dance,” when a rabbit jumps and twists in the air to let you know how pleased it is with life. Students learned the difference between house rabbits and wild rabbits, and they learned how to approach these shy-until-they-get-to know-you animals as preparation for actually meeting with two of Kathleen’s house rabbits.

This summer I with Camille delivered the donation to Frisky’s and toured the facility. A point came when our tour was interrupted by someone bringing in a fawn. Since our tour guide was Colleen Layton – who owns and runs Frisky’s with her husband – we had to wait as she ran off to deal with the intake. When she returned she told us that the folks who had brought the fawn had kept it a day too long because they had wanted to show it to some friends. The poor thing was covered in fleas and most likely hadn’t been fed the right food.

We also met monkeys that had once been pets (though they should not be), injured hawks, an eagle, and owls; fed goats; and learned that it takes a very passionate person to devote their life to such an important sanctuary.


Linda Joy Burke

Sunday School Teacher at the Baltimore Ethical Society
Linda Joy Burke is a performance poet and published writer. She grew up in the Nation's capital during the 1960s, went to Mt. Vernon College in DC for poetry and Loyola College of Baltimore for not long enough. She's done a number of labor intensive jobs where she learned service and patience. She's been writing for over 40 years and reads everything she can get her hands on except horror, computer manuals, and most contemporary science fiction. She listens to PBS, watches a lot of documentary TV, and listens to everything in music from hip hop to classical, country to world beat--and she values silence. She says, "I believe there's always a little more room in the old brain for something new."

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