Puppies to bring smiles to elderly faces

By Elizabeth Behland

NIU service organization Circle K will be introducing new members to the club as well as entertaining the elderly by holding a “puppy day” at the Pine Acres Retirement Center Saturday.

Circle K is a not-for-profit organization interested in raising money for special causes. In the past, the club has sponsored activities such as a Thanksgiving food drive for the Salvation Army and a pledge-sponsored bowl-a-thon for Spastic Paralysis.

Circle K is the world’s largest organizaton that provides service and leadership opportunities for college students, a press release stated. The organization consists of 800 clubs in seven countries.

The NIU branch consists of 32 members, but Skyla Ivers, Circle K public relations chairwoman, said she is hoping the club’s sponsored activities will attract new members.

For puppy day, club members will pick up puppies from the DeKalb County Animal Welfare Shelter and take them to the Pine Acres Retirement Center. The residents of the retirement center will be able to play with the puppies and visit with the students.

Kristin Powell, Circle K president, said the puppy day project has two goals in mind. She said Circle K not only would like to introduce new members to the club but also would like to help less fortunate residents.

Bringing the puppies to the retirement center benefits both the elderly residents and the students involved in the project, Powell said.

Circle K member Neil Tobin said, “It’s (puppy day) a great way to brighten their day.”

Debbie Leahy, retirement center activities director, said the residents love the puppies. Leahy said several residents are bedridden, and puppy day gives them a chance they normally would not have to interact with a pet.

Powell said, “The puppies act as an icebreaker between the members and the elderly people. Many of the residents like to talk, and the puppies make the situation more comfortable.”

One puppy is distributed to a group of four students. This gives the individuals more freedom to go from room to room and talk with many of the elderly residents or to have long conversations with a few.

Leahy said the retirement center residents have enjoyed all of the projects Circle K has had for them in the past, such as the bringing of baked goods and Christmas carolling during the holidays. However, Leahy said, “The residents especially enjoy puppy day because it allows them to visit with the students on a one-on-one basis.”

All Circle K club members and non-members interested in participating in puppy day should meet in the Pow Wow Room at 2:00 p.m. Saturday.

Meetings for Circle K are held from 9 to 10 p.m. each Tuesday in the Holmes Student Center.