A group of awesome school children from Hamilton, Mont., regularly pass up play time to bring a little comfort to animals at their local shelter.
Once a week, students from the Keystone to Discovery Enrichment program, a nonprofit summer and after-school project for behaviorally or academically at-risk youth, head to Bitter Root Humane Association to read to shelter animals that are waiting for adoption. The program not only gives the kids a chance to work on their reading skills, but also helps soothe the animals.
"The dogs really respond to the kids. It really helps to have somebody talk to them," Bitter Root's lead animal care attendant, Charlotte, told HuffPost. Charlotte chose not to disclose her last name.
“We’ve seen that the sound of their voices is soothing for the dogs and cats. It is relaxing to the dogs to hear those calm and steady voices," the program's director, Ria Overholt, told the Ravalli Republic.
Although the after-school program offers a variety of activities from sports to robotics, some children choose to come to shelter week after week.
"Every week I come home from here and ask my mom if I can take one home," sixth-grader Brayden Rogers told the Republic.
Last month, the shelter posted a note to its Facebook page thanking the students for continuing to give their time to the animals.
Thank You Keystone After school Program AGAIN for coming in and reading. This time to the dogs!!!!! Polar Bear, a beautiful 5 year old male registered malamute, seemed to be enjoying the stories immensely! THANK YOU so much for coming down and doing this for the shelter animals. We look forward to another year of having you guys down.
Charlotte says plans are now in the works to extend the kids' visits into the summer.