Smart police dog sitting outdoors

"Between raising money for a new K9 officer, volunteering at shelters and the Eagle Tail Wolf Sanctuary, and planning a February mission trip, the kids are keeping busy."

Hands 4 Paws and Interact — two clubs sponsored by Marie Buquicchio, a special education teacher at Youngker High School — are raising money for a new Buckeye Police Department K9 officer.

Buquicchio’s clubs raised more than $3,200 for a Kevlar vest for K9 officer Cliff last May. While presenting the vest to Cliff, his handler, Officer Dave Smith raised the challenge: “Do you think you guys could raise enough to purchase a new dog?” Cliff’s colleague, Bento, is retiring this year. 

The kids accepted the challenge.

The students of Hands 4 Paws and Interact are hosting fundraisers to purchase Bento’s replacement. 

“We are swamped,” Buquicchio said. “We literally have three to five fundraisers a month until the end of the school year.”

Saturday, September 21, the groups will be at Texas Roadhouse at 15255 W. McDowell Road, Goodyear, for a rib-eating competition between the Buckeye and Goodyear first responders. 

The organizations will receive 10% of all purchases made between noon and 4 p.m. if guests mention “Buckeye” or “Hands 4 Paws.”

The next day, Sunday, September 22, they are hosting a fundraiser at The Main Event, 10315 W. McDowell Road, Avondale. Guests are invited to leave their receipt and then the two groups will receive 20% of the proceeds. They are selling vouchers for this event that come with $10 game cards. 

Adoptable dogs will be at the event as well. Additionally, the students will collect blankets, toys and food for shelter animals.

Between raising money for a new K9 officer, volunteering at shelters and the Eagle Tail Wolf Sanctuary, and planning a February mission trip, the kids are keeping busy. 

They are planning a November 2 hot dog-eating contest on November 2 at the Buckeye Fire Station. Registration will be open to the public and there will be activities, games and prizes, along with dogs for adoption, Buquicchio said. 

“We would love to see a big crowd there,” she added.

For more information about any of the events, email marie.buquicchio@buhsd.org. You could also follow the students’ efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.