First-grade students at Kiowa County Elementary took to heart a project that came to life for them from the pages of classroom reading book.

It all started with a story about service dogs that Kiowa County first grade students read together in teacher Laura Prosser's class. A special visit to the class by Randy and Susan Teske, and Randy's service dog, Marco, brought home the message. And the result was a community, school and families coming together to bake doggie treats and sell them for a total of $652 which the students donated to a service dog training organization.
"The kids were just really moved by the whole thing," Prosser said. "The story really caught their attention, then when Randy came and told the kids about his experiences, they just knew they wanted to help others with disabilities get service dogs like Marco."
Teske, from Pratt, is legally blind and depends on his service dog to walk from place to place. He told the children how he was able to get Marco, thanks to donations and help from others, and how he had learned to trust his dog more than his own instincts.
One example he gave was about a time when he knew the road he wanted to go down and Marco kept pulling him away. He got frustrated with his dog and tried to go the way he knew, but ended up falling in a mud puddle, after that he trusted Marco to keep him out of such situations.
"We talked about it as a class and the students decided they wanted to raise money to help others get service dogs by making and selling doggie treats," Prosser said. "It really was their idea all the way."
Prosser sent out letters to the parents along with doggie treat recipes from Pinterest for them to try at home. Together the class made a big batch of Cheddar Doggie Biscuits in the school kitchen, and even tried tasting them after they were baked in the school ovens.
"Other than the garlic taste, they were actually very, very good," Prosser said. "They smelled wonderful. They kind of reminded me of Red Lobster biscuits."
On Wednesday, March 21, the first graders held a Doggy Treat Bake Sale in the school cafeteria. Their designated recipient of funds raised was KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc. in Washington, Kansas. A good turn-out from the community and orders brought in by the Teskes from Pratt helped them raise $652.
"The kids came together and did a really good thing here," Prosser said. "I was so proud of them for the ideas they came up and how they invested their time and their families in this project."
The story that started it all came from a nonfiction section in Kiowa County Elementary School first grade reading book "Time for Kids."