Glenwood Springs middle schooler raises nearly $2,000 in funds, merchandise for Rifle’s Journey Home Animal Care Center

Allison West hangs onto the leash of Boo, a dog currently up for adoption at Journey Home Animal Care Center in Rifle, on Friday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Allison West knew right away what she wanted to do for her math project. What she didn’t know was that its success turned out to be a lot easier than calculus. 

After convincing local pet stores and two Roaring Fork schools to place donation boxes and coin jars on desks and in offices, the 13-year-old Glenwood Springs Middle School student collected nearly $2,000 in funds and items in less than three weeks.

West last week donated all of the funds raised to Journey Home Animal Care Center in Rifle.

“I didn’t think I was going to get that much,” West said on Friday. “It’s kind of out of the blue, and I didn’t think many people were gonna know about it or donate to it.”

West is currently enrolled in the gifted and talented math program at her school. There, eighth-grade math teacher Adam Cartwright requests, every trimester, that these students tackle a project of their choosing — as long as, of course, it has something to do with mathematics.

West was immediately inspired to use this opportunity to give back to a place that got her through a rough spot in life. In 2020, West was being bullied and decided to ease her pain by adopting a cat, Emma, from Journey Home.

“I’ve been bullied a lot, and so I can understand and I can relate to the animals in the shelter,” she said. “They have no home, they don’t have anybody that loves or cares about them, and I can relate to that.”

Stephanie West, Allison’s mother, said her daughter proceeded to speak with the manager at Petco, the owner of Mountain Dog Pet Supply — a quest to see if they’d allow donation jars inside their places of business. She also spoke to and convinced principals at her school and Sopris Elementary School to do the same.

Allison, a Girl Scout, even gave Journey workers boxes of Girl Scout cookies that people didn’t buy but still donated money toward. Journey workers had 25 boxes to munch on.

Allison West stands over all the merchandise she collected to be donated to Rifle’s Journey Home Animal Care Center. She’s holding her cat, Emma, which she adopted from the center in 2020.
Stephanie West/Courtesy

“It took a lot of bravery on her part to go to people she doesn’t know and explain her idea to them,” Stephanie said of her daughter. “It took a tremendous amount of organization skills and staying on top of her dad and I to get her to the places to pick up the donations every week.”

Stephanie added, “I don’t know many 13-year-olds that would come up with close to $2,000 between cash and merchandise to get to an animal shelter completely on her own.”

Journey Home itself has 19 dogs and about 25 cats up for adoption, Executive Director Heather Grant said on Friday. Each one of course requires the essentials, including food and litter. And their average stay? Anywhere from two weeks to five months.

Grant said that people have done fundraisers in the past for Journey Home, but she doesn’t think she’s ever had a middle schooler pull off such a big project like Allison did.

“I’m blown away,” Grant said. “I mean, she’s in middle school and she did this amazing fundraiser, put it together, organized it and it was very well accepted by the community.

“It’s awesome.”

Allison’s cat Emma has done wonders for her psyche. Emma, whose history is a bit unknown, now lives on the “chunky side of life” but she is “very loving, very caring and she loves anybody,” Allison said.

And anyone going through a rough patch should adopt a pet, Allison said.

“It really helps,” she said. “It changes your life.”

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