San Francisco-based P.L.A.Y., Pet Lifestyle and You, announced the winner of its annual Scholars Helping Collars essay competition. Each year, P.L.A.Y. rewards the student who best describes through their written entry the impact he or she has made in the life of a rescue animal or animal welfare cause in general. Andrew Harmon from Troy, Ohio, will receive a $1,000 college scholarship for his service at his local animal shelter.
"It was clear in Andrew’s essay that what started as an Eagle Scout project grew into a much deeper passion," said Deborah Feng, P.L.A.Y. co-founder. "His initiative and commitment to his local animal shelter impressed us, and we’re thrilled to award him with this scholarship."
Harmon first reached out to His Hands Extended Sanctuary (HHES), his local animal shelter, when searching for a deserving cause to support for his Eagle Scout project. HHES was seeking help funding some much needed chain-link dog runs, so Harmon stepped in. He organized a fundraiser in the parking lot of Tractor Supply Co. in Troy with a photo booth for people to take pictures with their pets. He also secured a donation from a Rotary member after he spoke to the local chapter about the cause.
As for the materials, Harmon contacted Lowe’s, and the corporate office agreed to match his raised funds and discount the rest by 10 percent—saving HHES nearly $1,000. In the next few weeks, with the assistance of his friends, family and Boy Scout troop, they built three chain-link dog runs.
Even after he completed his Eagle Scout project, Harmon continued to volunteer his time and manpower with various other tasks, including building an additional dog run. Eventually he was offered a job, so he happily continued his work there by cleaning, helping with adoptions, troubleshooting IT problems and overseeing volunteers’ efforts.
"I quickly fell in love with many of the animals, and for me and the other employees/volunteers, it’s not just a job, but a common desire to see the rescued animals receive a better life," Harmon wrote in his essay.
Animal welfare has always been an integral part of P.L.A.Y.’s business. Every year, the company offers this scholarship to spotlight some of the young minds from across the country who are equally passionate about helping animals in need. For the first time ever, P.L.A.Y. also offered second and third place prizes.
In second place, Daniel Kennon from Winter Park, Fla., will receive a prize of 10 Warm Bellies Special Edition Chill Pads donated to the animal shelter of his choice. Elliott Davis from North Potomac, Md., will be awarded the third-place prize of a Garden Fresh plush toy set donated to the animal shelter of his choice.
P.L.A.Y. collected more than 150 entries from across the country in this year’s competition. Each essay was judged based on the following criteria:
- Compelling and engaging description of volunteer efforts and their impact on the personal life of the student
- Thematic consistency throughout the submission around the central thesis
- Proper spelling and grammar usage throughout the submission
To read Harmon’s winning essay, as well as those from Kennon and Davis, visit petplay.com/scholarship/winners.