Student shows love for little creatures

As Ariel Benjamin prepares for her journey into adulthood and readies herself for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah, the soon-to-be 13 year old is already demonstrating qualities that will serve her and society well into the future.

As part of her coming of age ceremony at Temple Beth Israel on May 2, Ariel has been participating in a mitzvah project focused on serving her community that will also benefit a passion that she holds close to her heart.

Inspired by her love of all creatures great and small, Ariel has chosen to work with the Inland Valley Humane Society & SPCA in Pomona by raising funds and collecting donated items that will help save the lives of animals in the area.

“It’s a no kill shelter,” says the seventh grader proudly. “When I’m old enough, I’m hoping to work there on their animal rescue team.”

The Inland Valley Humane Society (IVHS) & S.P.C.A. is a private, nonprofit organization and is supported by contributions, grants, bequests and proceeds from pet adoptions, pet licensing and fees for services. Serving Claremont and the Inland Valley since 1949, the IVHS provides protection, shelter and medical care to unwanted, abandoned and injured animals.

The El Roble student has been working hard to aid the Humane Society and is hoping people will help her with that mission. In addition to placing a collection box in her Temple’s office where people can donate items such as pet carriers, blankets, old towels, leashes, food, cat litter and dog and cat toys, Ariel is using her creative talents for a more hands-on approach.

“I started hand-making dog toys from felt and selling them for $5 each,” she says. “I’ve sold 16 so far, with all the money going to the Humane Society.”

Each dog toy takes 20 minutes to make and she accepts custom orders.

“We’ve had people request Angels colors and Dodgers colors,” she says. “My woodshop teacher at school bought two and she wants to get more.” 

Ariel first learned about the Humane Society from her mom, Deena. Every year, Ms. Benjamin gives each of her children $100 to donate to the charity of their choice. Recognizing her daughter’s interest in animals, she suggested Ariel donate to the Humane Society and she’s been a member ever since.

“I’d never heard about it before,” Ariel admits. “My mom showed me their website and it’s a really amazing group. I follow all their stories and have every magazine since 2010!”

Although Ariel’s never had a pet of her own other than fish due to family allergies, she’s always loved animals and has found ways to interact with them. She dog sits and walks dogs for a colleague of her father’s who lives in the neighborhood.

As a sixth grader at Sycamore Elementary School, Ariel also became involved with Guide Dogs of America. Every Monday she would assist the instructor with puppy training, a job she loved.

“She was their official distraction,” Mr. Benjamin says with a laugh.

Having worked with puppies for a whole term until they graduated from puppy school, Ariel says she learned a lot, including just how much training a dog must go through in order to become a guide dog for the blind.

“The blind person is relying completely on the guide dog and its trainer has a lot of responsibility,” she says. “The puppies would jump around everywhere and not really listen but once they graduated from this course, they were loyal and obeyed every command.”

As her big day approaches, Ariel’s parents couldn’t be more proud of the young woman she’s become and the dedication she has shown towards her mitzvah project.

“We’re very proud,” Mr. and Ms. Benjamin say of their daughter. “Ariel takes initiative with anything she takes an interest in. We’re quite pleased.”

Donations collected by Ariel for her mitzvah project will be delivered to the Inland Valley Humane Society & SPCA  on Wednesday, April 22 at 2 p.m.

“The shelter is hoping to expand their place and get better living quarters for the animals until they get adopted,” explains Ariel. “I hope this will make a difference.”

 If you are interested in supporting her cause with a donation or would like to order a dog toy, contact Deena Benjamin at

—Angela Bailey


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