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Renwood Kindergarten student starts non-profit to benefit local police canines

Lucas with Renwood Kindergarten Teacher Ashley Banes June 1, 2020

 

In less than two years, Lucas Woronischtsche has accomplished more to positively impact his community and nation than most adults.


This civic-minded and philanthropic six-year-old Renwood Elementary student is the brains behind “Operation Happy Pups”, which raises money to donate treats, gifts and necessary equipment to police canine service dogs in Northeast Ohio and throughout the country.


The idea for Operation Happy Pups originated after Lucas and his family attended the City of Parma’s annual “Treat & Greet” in the fall of 2018.


“When he was four, he met canine Dexter at the Treat and Greet,” Rebecca Woronischtsche, Lucas’ Mom, explained. “As we walked away, he said he wanted them to have Christmas presents like he did. So that’s when we started it. As soon as we got home, he said it was Operation Happy Pups, and he started doing chores to earn more money.”


A month later, Lucas came up with the idea to host a lemonade stand in his neighborhood raise money. With fall-like temperatures and weather being a deterrent, Rebecca instead posted to friends on Facebook to donate to Operation Happy Pups for Parma canines. Within 24 hours, over $300 was raised for toys and treats for the city’s four canine officers and one retired canine.


When the weather warmed up, Lucas and his family began hosting lemonade stands in their neighborhood. Over the course of three lemonade stands, Lucas raised $2,600.


“I’m doing a lemonade stand to raise money for the canines so the canines can have presents,” Lucas explained. “I want to help the canines because they help the city.”


Besides raising money for police canines in the local area, Lucas also thanks human police officers each Friday by dropping off candy at police stations. His benevolent efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter and the members of City Council. In January 2019, he was named the City of Parma “Citizen of the Month”, the youngest recipient ever in the history of the award.


In January, Lucas visited with high school students enrolled in a business class from Columbia Station and shared with them on how he had become so successful with Operation Happy Pups. Afterwards, he went back to his Kindergarten classroom at Renwood, taught by Ashley Banes, to share his story.


“When he came back, I had him talk with the kids in the class afterwards,” Banes said. “They thought it was so cool that he went to a high school.  They asked, “Did you really?” and “Were they driving?”…. Mom said he was a little nervous, but, he went and did it. When he came back, he was super excited about it.”


Even during a global pandemic, Operation Happy Pups continues to grow. Recently, Lucas and his mom were recognized by the state and nationally as a 501c3 non-profit organization. He currently sells Operation Happy Pups t-shirts and challenge coins on his Facebook and Instagram pages.


To date, over $3,200 has been raised to benefit 53 canines throughout the USA, including canines as far away as Alaska and California. In the last two months alone, Operation Happy Pups has donated to 33 canines.


The Woronischtsche family continues to plan for fundraising in the future, including a drive-through, “socially distant” lemonade stand and possibly a fundraising dinner when the timing is right.


“It’s absolutely fun,” Rebecca explained. “We sit here every night and go through social media and he picks out pups that he wants to send toys to. So, I do his social media for him, and get his “clients”, as he calls them. He said that he runs a business and the customers get what they want.”


“He is very mature, and he is super enthusiastic about everything in life,” Banes expressed. “He’s a hard worker. He’s very bright and he’s very helpful to his classmates and always helpful to me, too. He also has a great appreciation for his parents, and everything that they do. Overall, he’s just a great kid.”
If you are interested in making a donation to Operation Happy Pups, you can find more information on Facebook or Instagram by searching for Operation Happy Pups.


Operation Happy Pups also has a Go Fund Me campaign page. Please visit https://gf.me/u/w5dqbp for more information.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Lucas got to share his experience at Columbia High School with his Kindergarten class at Renwood Elementary, taught by Ashley Banes.