Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 | 10:06 p.m.
Valentine’s Day in elementary schools conjures visions of pretty, homemade boxes covered in red and pink hearts, Disney-themed Valentines addressed to classmates and an assortment of sugar-filled treats.
But second-graders at The Meadows School take the traditional Valentine’s Day celebration to a whole other level.
These 60 kids are in charge of the private school’s annual Valentine’s Day bake sale that benefits the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and it’s serious business.
Last year’s bake sale raised $7,000. In the past eight years, the bake sale has raised nearly $30,000 for the society’s no-kill animal shelter.
With help from parents, children design and build booths from which they sell their homemade and store-bought treats. The second-graders price the sweets — from cotton candy to fresh chocolate-chip cookies and cake pops — anywhere from 25 cents to $1, and the treats sell out fast.
“It’s pretty crazy and fun at the same time,” said sixth-grader Brock Prince, who participated in the bake sale when he was in second grade. “Now I get to check out what everyone has and what’s different.”
Eleventh-grader Graceanne Warburton said the sale had grown greatly since she participated years ago.
“It’s so fun and totally worth it,” Warburton said. “When I was in it, I made paper dice with candy in it. I was worried I wouldn’t sell out, but these kids seem to have no problem with that.”
This year, all the students of The Meadows School, preschool to 12th grade, were invited to shop at the bake sale. Along with selling treats, the fundraiser consisted of a silent auction and selling NSPCA T-shirts.
“I think every single child can relate to having a pet or wanting a pet,” said second-grade teacher Jeff Pettit, who noted the first year the school chose to donate to the NPSCA, students raised about $500.
He said teachers encouraged students to go all out with decorating their booths and coming up with themes for their sale items. Less than an hour into Tuesday’s event, a good number of booths were sold out of treats.
Doug Duke, NSPCA executive director, said the students outdo themselves every year.
“No one is ever prepared for how grand it is,” said Duke, who joined other members in bringing animals to the bake sale. ”It teaches the kids humane education and giving to the community.”
About a month before the bake sale, the students took a field trip to the shelter and got to meet and come up with names for many of the rabbits, dogs, cats and other animals the sale will help.
“It helps give meaning to this,” Duke said. “They meet the rescued animals and help feed them.”
Money students raise, no matter what amount, goes directly to the shelter’s medical supplies, rescue fund and facility amenities. It’s hard to say how many animals the students help, but Duke said it could cost up to $70 to spay and neuter an animal, and the average rescue fee is $40 to $50.
Beyond the thousands the children donate from the bake sale, Duke said some students come back to the NSPCA to adopt animals of their own and spread the word that other animals need homes.
“The kids pick it up right away ... that animals are a part of the family.”