Huntington tween raises green for the dogs

By Arlene Gross

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‘Pawsing’ on their three-mile dog walkathon, which raised $800 for Little Shelter: 12-year-old Tyler Bank, toward center; his mother, Joyce Berlin Bank; and brother Eli Bank, 8. Courtesy Joyce Bank (click for larger version)

Times of Huntington

May 21, 2009 | 02:48 PM

When it came time for his bar mitzvah community service project, one boy decided to do a doggone world of good. Organizing his first-ever dog walkathon as part of the community service component of his religious studies, 12-year-old Tyler Bank of Huntington raised $800 for the Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center last Friday. 

During the walk, 30 people, including 10 of Tyler's classmates, accompanied 10 canines on a three-mile loop from his Huntington home to Oldfield Middle School in Greenlawn, where Tyler attends seventh grade.

In addition to those who walked, 25 others donated money, Tyler's mom, Joyce Berlin Bank, said.

Little Shelter's special programs manager Arleen Leone said, "We are so proud of Tyler and all the people that walked last Friday. It's just so nice to know that they care so much about animals, and our future looks brighter because of them."

Though the shelter runs its own walks, this is the first time an outside group ran such a benefit on its behalf, Leone said.

"It's an amazing thing," she said. "He took on a huge responsibility with tremendous support from his family, and they pulled off something other groups haven't been able to do. This was his idea. They made up these beautiful flyers; they distributed them."

Though community service was a prerequisite of both his religious education and the National Junior Honor Society to which he belongs through public school, Tyler conjured up the plan himself.

"I thought it was a great idea to raise money for these dogs that really needed help," he said.

The Bank family learned of Little Shelter while searching for a dog three years ago. At the time, the facility had no puppies, so they went elsewhere to get Marley, now 3, a Boston terrier-beagle mix commonly known as a Bogle. But Little Shelter left a lasting impression on Tyler.

"Because of the recession, people that were losing their homes had to give their dogs to the Little Shelter, so this money is going to help buy food for them so they can stay in their homes," Tyler said.

The oldest animal haven in Suffolk County, Little Shelter is a no-kill, nonprofit organization that houses and seeks homes for its 60 dogs and 300 cats. The shelter runs a humane education program in the schools and the Animal Soup Kitchen — to help people feed their pets — while providing pet medical care on behalf of people who cannot otherwise afford treatment for their beloved furry friends. The generosity and kindness of people like Tyler help Little Shelter continue its many good works.

Cantor Sandy Sherry of Temple Beth El in Huntington said that, as part of their religious education, bar and bat mitzvah students are tasked with three projects: creative work; "tsedakah" or charity to the organization of their choice, and a "tikkun olam" or "reparation of the world" project. The purpose of all this, she explained, is to teach the value of "giving time out of your daily routine, out of your life to do something … to make the world a better place."

Other Temple Beth El tikkun olam projects this year have included volunteering on food drives and at the HIHI homeless shelter in Huntington Station; leading Sabbath services for Jewish war veterans at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport, and running a food drive for Little Shelter. For Tyler Bank, the dog walk offered something a little different and, at the end of last week's event, many participants said they can hardly wait for next year's event.

His second annual dog walkathon will be bigger and better, he said.

And no doubt, barkier.