A class of year 7 students from Cessnock High School raised $500 for Hunter Valley Zoo via the Return and Earn program this year.
The 7C Cessnock Academy of STEM Excellence (CASE) class chose to support the zoo in the wake of the raging bushfires at the beginning of the year, when they were studying livable and sustainable communities.
They decided to fundraise, as a class and community, for the zoo, because it is such a loved place by both locals and tourists.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the zoo to close to the public for over two months, the students were even more motivated to collect empty cans and bottles because they wanted to be able to help the zoo when tourists couldn't.
The class recently visited the zoo to present their donation, and thanked everyone who contributed by giving their Return and Earn receipts or leaving a can or bottle in the donation box.
Owner Jason Pearson and the Hunter Valley Zoo crew are grateful for the school's support: "We would love to say a very big thank you to the amazing students of Cessnock High School for their outstanding efforts at raising money for the zoo. This generous contribution will go towards the upkeep of the animal exhibits, their food and enrichment to help better their lives," they said.
7C students Amber Johnson and Stevie Somers said they were pleased to support the zoo.
"I feel really good to be able to help a local business, especially because we are helping the animals," Amber said.
"Knowing that we contributed to the zoo and helped clean our school and community makes me feel proud to be a part of the CASE class and of the Cessnock community," Stevie dded.
Class teacher Kristen Pollock said she is "extremely proud" of each student in the class.
"Their passion, consideration and understanding of social justice is out of this world," she said.
"Every student engaged with the fundraiser and contributed to the collection of cans and bottles to help out a local business.
"It is incredible how compassionate and motivated these students have been throughout the whole year and really highlights the respect they have for both, the environment and their own community."