The two Camas high school seniors spoke animatedly as they hashed plans for this year’s All Paws on Deck fundraiser.
All four years of their high school experience, Leona Macgregor, 16, and Claire McOmie, 17, have helped run the fundraiser, which raises money for the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society. The fundraiser is put on by the school’s DECA program, a club that prepares students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
This year, All Paws on Deck is comprised of a street fair on Sept. 24, preceded by an online campaign where folks from the community can donate and submit their canines as candidates in a regional dog mayor race and cast their vote. The winning pooch will be selected during the street fair out of 10 final candidates.
McOmie is the high school’s director of public relations for the DECA club and as a self-proclaimed dog lover eagerly anticipates the event.
“It’s really fun for us because since like August, we see all their applications online,” McOmie said. “Then we get to meet them all on the 24th, and that’s really fun.”
The street fair this year will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 24 along Northeast Fourth Avenue between Northeast Everett Street and Northeast Franklin Street in downtown Camas. Events will be every 30 minutes — including contests such as doggie detective, where canines are challenged to discover which cups conceal treats and objects, an agility course for dogs, speed-eating, best-dressed, best-trick and doggie dash, tallying up the fastest runners of the bunch.
Similar to the Camas Farmer’s Market, stalls by local businesses will be present such as Kona Shaved Ice, High Expectations Dog Training, Steakburger on the Go, Naturally Healthy Pet supply and West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, and is likely to grow as DECA continues to accept vendors until Sept. 15.
Some DECA students will be also be overseeing craft and face-painting booths. With the addition of drink stalls for parents, the event boasts a family-friendly atmosphere.
“The online aspect is really fun, but it’s kind of the street event that we’re really here to celebrate,” Macgregor said. “It’s just a really overall great family community event that we host.”
All funds from the event will be donated to the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, disbursed as needed toward acquiring pet supplies, footing medical bills and funding the shelter’s staff.
For the fundraiser’s first year in 2019, DECA ran the downtown Camas street fair and raised about $2,000 for the Humane Society, and in 2020 raised upwards of $5,800 despite being restricted to a virtual event due to COVID. Last year, students in the DECA program combined the two ideas and after achieving fundraising success of $8,200 voted to continue with the hybrid format.
Michelle Simeone, executive director for the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, said that past years’ donations have had a positive impact for the shelter.
“What started out as a little project is really quite significant,” Simeone said. “Some thousand dollars is a lot of money to give to a smaller nonprofit like us.”
Prior to the event, the Humane Society sends staff members and volunteers to the high school to speak on what the Humane Society does, accompanied by a furry companion from the shelter.
“We’re big supporters of this not just because of the donation, but because we love to see kids get involved with fundraising and community,” said Peggy DiPrima, director of fundraising and events for the shelter.
The fundraiser doubles as the girls’ senior project, and this year Macgregor and McOmie’s campaign goal is to raise over $10,000. Online donations are accepted until the night of Sept. 23 and all proceeds from the street fair will go to the Humane Society.
Information about the upcoming fundraiser can be found online on Camas DECA’s website at https://www.camasdeca.com/chapter-projects/all-paws-on-deck.