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Local 6th-grade teacher and class make pull toys for dogs in need over the holidays

LANSING, Ill. (December 17, 2023) – Marcy Wegner and her 6th-grade class at Memorial Junior High School didn’t want to forget about the dogs who don’t have families of their own during the holiday season. The students made over 100 pull toys from old t-shirts to donate to dogs at local shelters.

Learning about charitable deeds

Wegner and her homeroom class share a common interest, their love for dogs. The students were thrilled to help dogs in need as they are a favorite animal of many of the students.

Wegner wanted to let the students “get the feeling of giving” because it is an “important part of learning.”

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Sixth-graders at Memorial Junior High School created over 100 doggy pull toys from scratch to donate to local shelters. (Photo: Kinise Jordan)

She started a t-shirt drive in the school to get the materials needed to make the pull toys. Students, parents, and teachers donated over 20 t-shirts to contribute to this charitable deed.

School officials showed their support for the cause by donating old gym uniform shirts.

“We are recycling and repurposing so that the dogs can get [help],” said Debbie Zadrozny, paraprofessional at Memorial Junior High School.

Many students are going with their parents to drop off a batch of the toys at the shelters before Christmas break starts.

“The kids are excited to be able to go and drop the toys off themselves,” Wegner said.

The students will also write letters to thank U.S. soldiers for their service over the holidays.

Creative outlet

Wegner thought it was important for the students to have a productive and creative outlet during their study hall period. She brainstormed a few ideas before getting this particular idea from a fellow teacher at Memorial Junior High.

“They like to do it,” she said. “They don’t want to just sit and do nothing.”

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A female student teaches a male student the braiding technique used to create a pull rope toy from old t-shirts. (Photo: Kinise Jordan)

According to Wegner, the process of making the pull toys was a bit difficult for the boys in the class, but the girls were naturals as many of them had experience in braiding hair.

She cut the old t-shirts into strips so that the students were able to make the toys from scratch.

The students tied three strips into a knot on one end and made a tight braid using the loose strips before securing the other end with a knot to create a replica of a doggy pull rope.

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Mrs. Wegner giving her 6th grade class instructions before the school dismissal below rings. (Photo: Kinise Jordan)

These toys often bring the animals comfort during stressful times in the shelter environment.

Wegner, who owns two five-year-old terrier mix rescue dogs, says the toy is a comforting tool for one of her dogs who suffers from separation anxiety.

“Dogs love them,” she said. “I gave a couple to my dogs, and one of them still carries it around in her mouth.”

Wegner plans to continue this tradition with her students in the years to come.

Memorial Junior High School is located at 2721 Ridge Road in Lansing.


Kinise Jordan
Kinise Jordan
Kinise Jordan brings local experience and a long list of journalism skills to her work with The Lansing Journal. She understands the need for reliable, factual information in equipping people to build community. An Audio News internship with WBEZ honed her interviewing skills and her sense of timing and deadlines. A native of Calumet City, Kinise is familiar with the interplay of local government, local schools, and local businesses.


  1. Great informative and inspirational article. Good to know and appreciate this news about local teacher and students giving and helping to cheer up those in need of love and support.

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