Roma Scriven, who teaches private piano lessons in her own private studio in Southwest Roanoke County recently decided she wanted to do something for the community. After some thought she decided to get her music students involved, too.
“I just thought I’d do a community outreach project outside of my piano studio,” Scriven said.
Scriven called her project “For the Dogs” and encouraged her students to put loose money into a can when they came in for their lessons.
“They really got into it. It was very dog-friendly.”
Scriven’s students raised $425 by emptying their pockets full of loose change. But with other contributions from her students and their parents raised a total of $1,798.63.
“Probably 95 percent of my students have dogs — really it was reminding students to practice for a good cause,” Scriven said.
The money was raised between October and April.
On May 1, Scriven’s students had their end-of-the-year recital at Grandin Court Baptist Church where they presented Saint Francis Service Dogs with a large check.
“They [Saint Francis] were blown away, all of us were really surprised,” Scriven said.
Viki Voudren, development director at Saint Francis Service Dogs said, “We were very pleasantly surprised at the amount they raised. When you think of kids saving their pennies for puppies you never expect almost $2,000.”
Saint Francis also brought one of its service dogs, Maggie, a 2-year-old golden retriever, to witness the event.
A “goody bag” with things off their wish list was also presented to Saint Francis.
“It was special that they brought the retriever in,” piano student, Jessica Hart said. “It was cool because of how well trained she was. I was really surprised at how much we raised considering how much I practiced. It encouraged us to play because we knew it was for a good cause.”
The money raised will be used by Saint Francis Service Dogs for their training programs, according to Voudren.
Saint Francis Service Dogs is not government or state-funded and relies solely on the donations received from people, grants and fundraisers.
The dogs that Saint Francis Service Dogs place are given to their partners free of charge. It costs about $15,000 to $20,000 and two years to train one of their dogs, which are Labrador and golden retrievers, Shelties, and border collies. The dogs are matched and children and adults with physical and emotional disabilities are interviewed before receiving their service dog.
About 30 dogs are currently in their program and about five to ten are placed each year, according to Voudren.
Scriven’s piano students are also planning to play at the dogs’ graduation celebration in the fall on Nov. 7, where Saint Francis Service Dogs will be matched with their partners.