Restoring Lives’ mentorship program, Be BLUE, is turning its attention to four-legged friends in need.
The group’s latest service project is a supply drive for the Ardmore Animal Shelter. The group will be accepting donations until December 11. Executive Director Shenita Jones said participating girls, students between kindergarten and fifth grade, pick their project together.
“I asked them to maybe think of something different,” Jones said. “They liked animals, they all wanted to go there.”
The group considered trash pick-up and a few other projects before settling on the animal shelter. Last year, they asked for help assembling care packages for the homeless. Jones said each project is two-fold. The girls volunteer their time, then reach out to the community.  
“It’s just a… component of giving back,” Jones said. “They need to learn to give back to the community through services, through their time, and then they ask the community, ‘Will you please help us give back?’”
The girls spent a day walking dogs, cuddling cats and helping out at the shelter. Jones said the group will return for a second volunteer day in March. Jones said the group hasn’t received many donations for the shelter.  
“I don’t know if people are taking them to the animal shelter, but they are not coming in to us,” Jones said. “We’ll come pick them up, and the girls are passing out flyers.”
The group is collecting monetary donations, pet supplies like dried and canned food, treats, litter, toys and blankets along with laundry detergent, dish soap, bleach and office supplies like paper, pens, black ink pens, copy paper and postage stamps.
Jones said community participation in the projects can vary a lot.
“One of the things I’ve learned is that it just depends on what people feel they need to do,” Jones said. “Last year, there were people who really have a draw to the homeless. You’ve got to find the heart.”
This marks Be BLUE’s second year. Service projects like this one are part of the curriculum, which focuses on coping skills, self esteem and personal growth.
“Be BLUE really deals with mindset changing,” Jones said. “Contribution is one of the components, confidence is one of the components, learning coping skills is one of the components.”
Jones said the idea is to give young girls coping skills early in life so they’re more prepared and resilient during their teen years and adulthood.
“We’re hoping to decrease the desire to want to commit suicide because you can’t problem solve or don’t know how to deal with something that’s going on,” Jones said. “It also helps you know who you are.”
Next year, the group plans to start a garden, and may revive the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Garden Project located near Gloria Ainsworth Child Care and Community Center.
To schedule a donation pick-up, call 580-798-3650. Drop-offs can be made at 301 W. Main St., suite 402, in Ardmore.