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Beechwood Middle student gains national attention for helping shelter pets

Oct 07 2020

A Beechwood Middle School student recently gained national attention for her creative work to find good homes for homeless cats in our community. Over the past month, seventh grader Jocelyn Thompson appeared on several South Carolina news stations, as well as CBS’s The Talk. The 12 year old hopes the attention will lead more young people to support and volunteer at pet shelters around the country.

Her efforts began in early summer when Thompson decided to contact PETSinc, a pet rescue and adoption organization in West Columbia, to see how she could help. After hearing their needs, Thompson decided to host a linen drive to collect towels and blankets to use for cleaning and comforting the shelter pets.

Thompson recruited two of her fellow Girl Scouts in Troop 2228 to join her. Together, she and Lexington Middle School’s Rosalie Jaramillo and BMS’s Rebecca Stevenson collected more than 300 linens.

“We washed and folded more than 50 loads of laundry, which took about 20 hours total,” said Thompson. “We wanted to make sure the towels and blankets were clean and fresh smelling for the animals.”

While volunteering with PETSinc, Thompson learned that adult cats don’t typically get as much attention as the dogs and are therefore less likely to get adopted. She had an idea to conduct interviews with the cats and share the videos on social media to raise awareness.

“In the videos, I talk about the cats’ characteristics — like if they are playful or love to cuddle,” said Thompson. “I also share some information I learn about the cats from their files, and just play with them and show them off.”

Her mom, Rosalind Thompson, posted the videos on her social media page and the PETSinc adoption page.

“At first, only a few people shared the videos,” said Thompson. “But as I videoed more cats, more and more people started sharing them on social media.”

PETSinc shared a photo and post with Jocelyn which caught the eye of a local television reporter who ran her story on the nightly news. Then a few other news outlets reached out to her. On Oct. 2, she also appeared on The Talk, a national CBS daytime talk show, hosted by Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood, Eve and Carrie Ann Inaba. The weekly “Feel Good Friday” segment highlights hometown heroes who make a difference in their communities.

“I was nervous, but it was exciting,” said Thompson. “I hope I can inspire more people to help out at pet shelters in their communities.”

As part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project, Thompson also created a YouTube channel she calls T.A.I.L.S., which stands for Taking Action in Local Shelters. On her page, she shared the cat interviews and plans to add more videos in the future.

“The videos are really working as each time I return to the shelter to record more I see the cats I’ve featured have been adopted. That makes me so happy.”