If you despair that the future of America depends upon the self-involved, socially awkward youth who defend the right of Miley Cyrus to twerk and aspire to be the first in line at the opening of “Fast and Furious 7, the Art of the Steal,” we have a suggestion that will make you feel better.


Come to the Aiken County Animal Shelter at 411 Wire Road on the second Saturday of each month and watch six volunteers from the South Aiken High School chapter of the Serteen Club commit their time and energy to making the dogs and cats housed at the shelter happier animals. It will warm your heart.


The Serteen Club is a high school organization whose national motto is “Making a Difference for Mankind.” There are no prerequisites for membership in the Serteens except a desire to be of service to their community.


The 72 members of the Serteens at the South Aiken High School Chapter are a culturally and ethnically diverse group, many of whom are four-year veterans by the time they are seniors.


Specific project activities are proposed primarily by the students. According to Valorie Vance, who serves as the Serteen faculty adviser, in any given month, the Serteens could be volunteering in as many as 10 events around town. For example, this year the Serteens will have assisted with Friends of the Animal Shelter Steeplechase events, Trick or Treat on Pendleton, Habitat for Humanity, the Walk for Alzheimer’s and the Ronald McDonald House, to name a few.


The Serteens have been volunteering at the Aiken County Animal Shelter since 2010. Forty-two members have completed the shelter’s volunteer training and orientation program and are eligible to sign up for the monthly service day.


At the shelter, they primarily spend their time socializing the animals through exercise, play and attention. Serteen volunteers also provide much needed help to the FOTAS for special projects around the Aiken County animal shelter, adoption days and fundraising events.


Mary Lou Welch, the vice president of FOTAS, has been working with the Serteens from the very beginning,


“They are so responsible, so polite and such great fun to be with, and they are so good with the dogs,” she said. “And they are committed. I’ve known a couple of these kids since they were freshman and had to be driven to everything, and now they drive themselves.”


Vance is articulate about the benefits to the students of community service. “It is wonderful to watch a kid who may have started out shy and withdrawn grow and mature into a young adult fully engaged in the world,” she said.


But rest assured, the benefits flow both ways – the staff and volunteers at the shelter are equally articulate about the joy these dedicated teenagers bring to the shelter animals so in need of kindness and human interaction.


When we observe Phillip running with the big dogs, or Kimberly and sister Kaytlin spending time at the Cat House, or Joi assisting with every adoption event, or Jada, her father and brother volunteering on days other than the designated Serteen service day, we can set aside our fears for the future of America’s youth.


We are certain the world will be a better place because they and their fellow Serteens are in it.


FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, email info@fotasaiken.org or visit www.fotasaiken.org.


Aiken County Animal Shelter: “By the Numbers”


Sept. 9 - Sept. 14, 2013


13 dogs and 7 cats -- total 20 pets adopted ... yay!


Jan. 1 - Sept. 14, 2013, year to date


567 terrific pets adopted ... yay again!


CONGRATULATIONS AIKEN COUNTY COMMUNITY!


Aiken County Shelter “Pets of the Week!”


(See .jpg attachments for photos)


**All adoption fees include: spay/neuter, heartworm test, all shots, worming, and microchip.