IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - More than $20,000 in grants have been awarded to 22 nonprofit organizations around the state, including Eastern Idaho. The money was donated by CenturyLink, as part of the company's middle school philanthropy program.
Eight middle schools across the state were chosen to distribute $3,000 per school to local nonprofits and Rocky Mountain Middle School was one of them.
A $2.2 million state-of-the-art facility is in the blueprints for the Snake River Animal Shelter. The shelter just needs to raise enough money for construction.
"I had no idea," said Erin Nazario, executive director of the shelter. "All of a sudden one day I get a call from Mr. Lauritsen who was the teacher of the group of kids and he told me they had awarded some of the grant to us and I was like, 'Fabulous! We'll take it!'"
As part of the program, students picked each nonprofit organization after doing research and voting as a group on how to allocate their funds. Students at Rocky Mountain gave a significant chunk of their money to the Snake River Animal Shelter.
"We're talking about possibly building the shelter facility in phases itself so we can begin operations and start taking care of the animals that need housing," said Nazario.
CenturyLink said this pilot program aims to create a lifelong interest in community involvement and civic engagement.
"Idaho is a great state and we want to keep it that way," said Sheri Davis, CenturyLink representative.
Nazario said this donation sparks another way the community can help out without having to donate money -- by spaying and neutering their pets.
"Yes the shelter is needed and there will always be a need for a shelter," said Nazario. "But, building a shelter isn't the only answer. For every one human child that is born, there are 15 dogs and 45 cats born per person."
Students at Rocky Mountain also donated $500 to the local Good Samaritan and another $500 to the local Veteran's Home.
For more information on the shelter, visit www.snakeriveranimalshelter.org.