By BETHANY WIEGAND
On Wednesday and Saturday, the Lycoming County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will team up with students from Lycoming College for Pet Photos with Santa, an event that raises funds for the shelter.
Pet Photos with Santa has been an annual event for the SPCA for more than 11 years, according to John Hettinger, director of development, who has been involved with the SPCA for five years.
Hettinger said participants can bring their animals and children to get photos taken with Santa. The event will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the shelter, 2805 Reach Road.
"Our lines to see Santa are a bit shorter than those at the mall, so it has been a great idea for some families who have special needs children as well," he said. "As the father of three autistic children myself, I have found this to be an easier way to have my sons see Santa and avoid the mall crowds that can cause a great deal of stress to my kids and kids like them."
There will be different packages available for participants, and volunteers will be on hand to help pose children and pets.
Dr. Neil Boyd, associate professor of business management and the chair of the department of business administration at Lycoming College, has had his Business 244 class team up with nonprofit organizations in Williamsport for four years now.
"I use a teaching pedagogy called 'service learning,' " Boyd said. "The students learn about management while they are doing a project with a nonprofit organization in Williamsport. They have to design and implement and run an entire event."
Boyd explained that each member of the team plays a formal business role, including creating a business card.
Student Kevin Morrow, who is taking Boyd's class, is the communication liaison for the group Serenity Consulting. Morrow said they are working directly with Hetttinger to make sure Pet Photos with Santa is a successful event.
"There was a turnout of around 80 last year. I feel with no competition in the area and our group helping, I'm hoping for 150 participants this year," Morrow said.
Due to his work with the project, Morrow is even considering volunteering with the organization after the class project is over.
Serenity Consulting also is helping the SPCA with its wish list drive.
Hettinger explained that the group chose to combine two projects into one.
"Collection containers will be placed in locations throughout the county for SPCA supporters to drop off much-needed shelter supplies to be used in the care of homeless and abused animals served by the SPCA," Hettinger said.
"The SPCA has a running wish list all the time. We are trying to have that list and those needs met during this event," Morrow said. "If people donate, they will get extra photos added to their package."
Boyd also explained that by having the students help with nonprofit organizations, they can gain an appreciation of nonprofits and how they can help.
Boyd also said this experience could help students with future employment opportunities.
Boyd's class also is working with other organizations in Williamsport, including the YWCA, YMCA, Little League International Museum, Discovery House and Habitat for Humanity.
For more information on the Pet Photos with Santa, call the Lycoming County SPCA at 322-4646, visit their Facebook page or visit the website www.lycomingspca.org.