Big-hearted SA Water employees have been fundraising to help local charity Labs ‘n Life support South Australian children with special needs and young people at risk.
Spearheaded by Findon resident and SA Water Customer Care Centre Manager, Gaby Gripton, the staff appeal has brought in more than $3000 over the past two years, and helped place four dogs with families in need.
Using two fundraising stations at SA Water’s headquarters, Gaby has managed to reel in the valuable donations by selling chocolates to sweet-natured colleagues.
“My colleagues get a guilt-free sugar hit and raise money that helps local kids and families caring for special needs children - so it’s a real win-win,” Gaby said.
“Once in a while, the Labradors spring by SA Water House to say thank you and that’s a special treat too.”
According to Gaby these fleeting visits really help spread the word within SA Water about Labs ‘n Life’s important charity work.
Gaby has been actively involved with Labs 'n Life for the last six years and is a dog lover and Labrador owner herself.
The charity has more than 20 programs running each week in schools and centres around Adelaide, including Brocas House in Woodville and Calla Gardens Primary School in Kilkenny.
The programs target children from six to 18 years of age, who are at risk of becoming disengaged and left-behind by the school system.
Labs 'n Life's Fundraising Coordinator and Program Presenter, Bianca Wren, said the chance to train Labradors gave these young people a new-found confidence and love of learning.
The Labradors are paired with a young person who is supported to train the dog each week, either during a school term, a semester, or even for a year.
"Our students learn how to communicate positively and get a real kick from knowing that the dog they've trained could improve or even save lives," Bianca said.
Once fully trained, the assistance dogs help families with autistic children, or can work as medical alert dogs for children with serious conditions, such as type 1 diabetes.
Labs 'n Life currently has more than 50 Labradors working in youth programs and since launching in 2007 has placed 20 dogs with families who have a child with special needs.
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