VICENZA, Italy- Vicenza Middle School and Youth Services students drove their month-long community service project to its logical end March 5, literally sending the results of their hard work to the dogs. The dogs, happily enough, were the inhabitants of the nearby animal shelter, Canile Gogna.

Robert Wojciechowicz, a Family and MWR, budget analyst, who has been a volunteer at Canile Gogna for the past three years and the keeper of two dogs adopted from the center, was one of the leaders of the project.

"I've been coordinating with the CYSS Middle School/Teen Center director and VMS teachers Elizabeth McLean and Debra Wilson and the Ente Nazionale Protezione Animale (ENPA-Canile) regarding a food drive," said Wojciechowicz.

Luca Harbeson, director at the Villaggio Teen Center, originally proposed the food drive, and the VMS Student Council took off with it according to Wojciechowicz.

"Mr. Harbeson knew I volunteered at the Canile and asked last year if the school and teen centers could assist. They teen center organized a food drive and then decided to have another this year with the school," he said.

"This was a collaborative effort between the Youth Center and middle school, one of many community service projects intended to educate our youth and at the same time help our fellw Italian community friends and neighbors," said Harbeson.

The ENPA staff and employees at the canile were grateful for the work the American children undertook and hoped that the experience was interesting and educational for them. After delivering their donation, the children had a tour of the shelter.

The Canile Gogna receives only a partial support from regional authorities and is supported mostly by private membership fees, donations and volunteering, so the food drive contribution was very welcome.

After delivering the goods, the children took a tour of the shelter conducted by Wojciechowicz and Roberta De Munari, ENPA events coordinator.

"The dog shelter was a pleasure to visit," said sixth-grader Camryn Camarata. "I was a little sad to see the beautiful dogs without owners, though. My personal favorite dogs are Adolfo and Yeager. I would recommend this shelter to anyone looking for a dog."

Connor Wilson, another VMS sixth-grader, also enjoyed the visit and finding out how the staff and volunteers work together to take care of all the dogs.

"It was sad though to see all the dogs inside the cages and to know that some of them might never be adopted. The VMS Board of Directors collected a bunch of dog food for the canile, so that was good," Wilson said.

"We truly learned so much from the experience. We are thankful that there are wonderful volunteers who make the lives of the dogs so much richer," said McLean, the VMS sponsor.

"We also appreciate the support of CYS and their collaborative efforts to join together for community service projects. We are so grateful for the bus and for Andre Luster being able to drive us there," she said.