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Students trade gifts for snuggles


Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

THIRD GRADERS play and pet kittens from HOPE Animal Shelter of Ironwood at the Hurley K-12 School Monday. Students voted to give presents to the shelter this year, instead of exchanging with each other.

HURLEY - Students in Melanie Erspamer's third grade class mixed and mingled with some furry friends at the Hurley K-12 School Monday.

Students decided against exchanging Christmas gifts with each other, and instead opted for bringing in gifts to a local charity.

"They were given the option of exchanging amongst themselves, or donating to a local cause or charity," Erspamer said. "They voted among HOPE Animal Shelter, DOVE or the (Iron County) Food Pantry, and they voted for HOPE."

Shelter director Randy Kirchhoff and assistant director Kathy Zumbrock met with the students Monday, bringing sone visitors with them, including a 7-year-old labrador/pit bull mix named Lola and two kittens, Frosty and Finnegan.

According to Kirchhoff, bringing in the pets was a great way to have the kids interact with the animals.

"That way, they can see what we have to offer," Kirchhoff said.

Students are still collecting "presents" for the animals, including leashes, collars, food and treats, detergent, blankets, toys, cat litter and other items.

Kirchhoff said HOPE has a wish list on its website and a giving tree with tags also mentioning specific items, if others wish to donate.

All items are wrapped, and when the class has a Christmas party before school ends for winter break, the students will open the presents to show what they have donated.

"I give them a lot of credit for giving up presents for themselves for this," Erspamer said. "And it was totally them. They voted and wanted to do this."

For more information, call the Hurley K-12 School at 715-561-4900, HOPE Animal Shelter at 906-932-1511 or visit