PIERCETON, Ind. (WANE)- Children and young people spent an afternoon lending a helping hand to some furry paws.

Young volunteers were encouraged to join the Literacy for Companionship program with the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County, for students this gives them an opportunity to be more comfortable with reading out loud.

Tonya Blanchard, Executive Director of Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County, said it is vital for kids to be able to read out loud and this is the perfect way to do it.

“It’s all about the kids coming in reading to the animals, being comfortable with reading out loud. It’s so important in the classrooms, children can read out loud and in return, the pets are hearing the soft innocent little voices. So it’s a win-win, and even when they are going home and they have their own pet, read them a bedtime story, it’s just building up the confidence for the students,” Blanchard said.

From the animals’ perspectives, it takes time to build trust with the kids that come to read to them, but the more often they’re interacted with, the better they get.

Here is the link to sign up for Read to the Animals with Literacy for Companionship

“For the animals, an animal is either dropped off at our shelter or abandoned so now it has been with the family for numerous years, and all of a sudden it is running loose, it’s been picked up and it is in a whole new environment. Blanchard said. Hearing barking dogs, and hearing different people working with it, so being with children, they are being held they are being comforted versus this a big world and they didn’t ask to be dumped on the side of the road, just teaching them to love again. Love them so much they forget what has happened to them in the past,” said Blanchard.

Literacy for Companionship Inc. has been around for four years. CEO and Founder Angela Ihrie wants to teach kids the important lessons of caring for animals.

“We are trying to teach children compassion and empathy towards animals, we are starting at a young age, the root of the problem, and we are also giving them a way to volunteer in the community. As well as practice their reading skills,” Ihrie said.

The Literacy for Companionship Inc. has watched many children grow and are thrilled to see the progress they have made.

“It is amazing to watch these children grow some of them come back month after month, year after year and to be able to see that, it really touches your heart,” said Ihrie.

So far there have been two cats adopted through this program.