When Oregon State University student, Karla Garcia, decided to do a fundraiser for Animals Asia, she set off a wave of support across a whole student body — not in Oregon, but at her home-town elementary school in Texas.

Fifth-grade school teacher, Maria Garcia — inspired by her daughter’s project — started an Ecology Club with her students at Finley Elementary School, taught them about bear bile farming, and the response was overwhelming! This amazing group of kids embraced the issue, learning as much as they could independently, and then began fundraising – donating a fantastic $1,000 to Animals Asia!

Finley elementary ecology club

Initially, the Ecology Club was involved with local non-profits, and students learnt about animal rights, respect, rescue and rehabilitation through club meetings. Students also actively participated in weekly adoption events and a few students took it further and became foster owners for rescued dogs.

When Karla became interested in moon bears and the bear bile industry, she shared the story of 130 bears currently living on a bear ‘farm’ in China that Animals Asia has taken over and is converting into a sanctuary through our Peace by Piece campaign, and set up her own fundraiser through Just Giving.

This prompted Maria to encourage the club students to look at ecology in other parts of the world and she taught the club about the bears, the inhumane practice of bile extraction and deplorable living conditions. The students took off and started researching more on their own and soon the whole school had become involved…

The Ecology Club led the School in their fundraising efforts and all the children brought in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. An amazing donation came from a first-grader who brought in his entire piggy bank to donate to the bears. After confirmation from his mom that her son was very impressed by the project and loves bears, this young student donated a total of $55.73. The class that donated the most was rewarded with a Banana Bear Boat (ice cream sundae - banana split - topped with gummy bears and teddy bear cookies). And the winning First Grade class that won was delighted!

School principal, Mr. Joe Garza, participated in this amazing effort, by making daily ‘bear fact’ announcements. All students were encouraged to visit The Ecology Club Bulletin Board to learn more about the project, which will feature the moon bears for the whole year. Right now, the fifth-grade students are working on a unit called “Bears of the World”.

Thank you very much to all at Finley Elementary for your incredible work in raising awareness about the Moon Bear’s plight, and raising some serious funds to help Animals Asia end bear bile farming.

If you’re inspired by Finley-Elementary’s story, and would like to get your school involved to help Animals Asia, please contact us at [email protected] for more information.