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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Northwood Students Bark up the Right TREE - Paws for Healing Reap the Benefits

By Linda Bausch

Students at Northwood Elementary are learning the value of giving back. Under the supervision of staff advisors, Jill Sickler and Marcia Smith, Northwood’s Student Leadership Club leads the pack, donating funds raised in the fall to a local charity, and funds raised in the spring to a national charity.

A list of charities and information about each group is presented to the Leadership Club, then they take a vote on where to donate the funds. Every Wednesday after school, the Paoli family pitched in, assisting the Leadership student-run sale of ‘Smencils’ (pencils made from recycled newspaper featuring fun scents), bringing in a total of $500! In January, a ‘penny drive’ campaign brought in an additional $320. (I can imagine the smell of copper and sagging pockets as the kids brought in their haul of pennies saved over time.)

The most recent recipient, Paws for Healing, is a volunteer organization that takes friendly dogs to visit people in local hospitals, nursing homes and the Veteran’s Home (to name a few) ––easing stress and bringing smiles to the faces of individuals who could use the comfort of a furry friend. Sometimes, the exchange goes the other way around––kids join the fun when volunteer dogs visit the library, and kids get a chance to sharpen their reading skills and gain confidence, as they read stories to the dogs. In either case, the dogs love the attention, and people receiving the visit benefit in more ways than words can describe.

Northwood is a MARE school, meaning each grade level studies an ocean habitat. The Leadership Club is researching three national organizations which focus on cleaning the oceans. Funds raised by popsicle sales will go toward one of these groups this spring.

Napa Food Bank has been a beneficiary, two years in a row, of a fall canned food drive. Victims of hurricanes and the devastating fires in Napa have been helped. A little closer to home, one of Northwood’s beloved teachers, Mrs. Corna, lost her home in the fire; it was an easy decision to help with a $1,200 donation.

To become a volunteer for Paws for Healing, there are a few simple requirements. The dog must be healthy, at least one year old, and have been with its human for six months or more. The dogs are evaluated, training and mentorship is provided. Volunteer time is based on your convenience and schedule, as well as the facility you chose to visit. A schedule of three-day training classes and more information can be found at their website,

If you want to help in your own way, participate in a fundraising opportunity at the school of your choice. If you want to bring comfort and joy to others with a visit from your pup, check in with Paws for Healing. Let’s use the youth of our community to guide our way.



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