PNC Students Raise Money For Pet Oxygen Masks

By: Purdue University Northwest Last Updated: May 21, 2014

purdue-north-centralA group of students at Purdue University North Central has raised more than $800 to supply nine local fire departments with life-saving pet oxygen masks.

Students Josh Byers, of Valparaiso, Max Tockert, of LaPorte and Josiane Virgil, of Valparaiso, are students enrolled in the Communication 415: Discussion of Technical Problems class taught by Susan O'Leary. They faced a class project that required them to assist a community nonprofit agency. The students decided to raise money to purchase pet oxygen mask kits.

Together, they recruited corporate sponsors, collected donations at special events and created an online community funding page that generated a total of $835. The students purchased the kits from Wag'n O2 Fur Life, an organization that has provided pet oxygen masks to more than 2,600 fire departments in the U.S. since 2008.

Each kit contains three different-sized masks, oxygen tubing and an instructional DVD.

The nine fire departments who received a kit include three stations in the city of LaPorte, Center and Coolspring Township in LaPorte County and Boone Grove, Hebron, Liberty Township, and Beverly Shores fire departments in Porter County.

Service learning at PNC is a course-based, credit earning educational experience that combines community service with academic instruction. The program focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility. Service learning courses involve students in organized community service that address local needs, while fulfilling course objectives. Through this process, students develop and enhance their academic skills, personal values and sense of community responsibility.

The students involved with this project found the service learning experience at PNC invaluable.

"I enjoyed this project because it gave me a chance to learn how to organize a fundraiser, while practicing on my communication skills outside of the classroom," said Virgil, a third-year engineering technology student. "I appreciated this class because it gave me hands-on communication experience that will help me after graduation."

PNC Service Learning coordinator Laura Weaver assisted the students with managing the funds collected and purchasing and shipping the pet oxygen mask kits.

"Most important are the lessons, both inside and outside the classroom, that the students learn," said Weaver. "These projects not only change the lives of those served, but also the students providing the service."

Byers, a junior in mechanical engineering, found the project compatible with one of his passions.

"Being an animal lover, I was very enthusiastic about being able to work on this project with Max and Josie," said Byers, of Valparaiso. "It gave me a chance to experience all that goes into organizing a fundraiser along with trouble shooting issues we had. I can easily see this carrying over into my future career when working in teams with new people and balancing the workload in that team to accomplish a common goal. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and I am pleased with how successful it was."