LEICESTER, Mass. — Though only a sixth-grader at Leicester Middle School, Erin Hazelhurst has already taken the lead among her peers in collecting food and toys for the Worcester Animal Rescue League.
The cause is close to the heart for Erin, who loves animals and has two dogs of her own.
"There's a lot of animals at the Worcester Animal Rescue League, and they aren't really getting adopted, and they don't have a lot of things," said Erin, who organized a drive for the organization at her school.
From Jan. 7 to Jan. 17, she set out donation boxes for chew toys, pet supplies and food; put up posters around the school; and made an announcement each day over the loudspeaker to spread the word.
"Erin's done a great job bringing the whole thing together," said guidance counselor Kathy Warnken. "She's a strong leader and a good person."
Erin received support and positive feedback from her fellow students, many of whom were moved by the posters she made and the photos of the pets in need of adoption at the league.
Coordinators at Worcester Animal Rescue League were grateful when Erin told them about her efforts to help them. Her visit to the shelter was an eye-opening experience.
"It made me realize how lucky that my dogs are, to see all these animals in need of a home," she said.
In addition to being a high honors student, Warnken says Erin will qualify to be nominated for the National Junior Honors Society.
"They look for four things, including leadership – which is really hard as a sixth-grader, but she took it upon herself to do this project."
Additional qualifications include character and scholarship and community service – which Erin also exemplifies.
She also volunteers at the Auburn Library, balancing that with dancing three times a week at Kathy Taylor School of Dance in Auburn.
"Obviously, school work comes first," Erin said.
In the future, she hopes to continue supporting the animal rescue league, recognizing the impact she could make even at a young age.
"Anyone can make a difference," Erin said. ”You don't have to be a certain age to do something good."