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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Paw Plan and Austin CoACT Give Back at Central Texas SPCA’s Barktoberfest Event

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  • Clocking in at 7 a.m., Benjamin Li ’25 and Andrew Zhang ’25 work with the Central Texas SPCA staff to arrange tables for booths at the event. Barktoberfest had various booths such as ones for small businesses, vets, and a kids’ play zone.

  • Volunteering, Phylicia Ren ’25 reviews the layout for the merchandise booths. Various pet related businesses participated in the event, advertising and selling their products to pet owners.

  • Filling up coolers with ice and water, Paw Plan volunteers prepare beverages for marathon runners to drink during their run. During Barktoberfest, a 4k marathon is hosted where participants can run with their dogs.

  • Eagerly, Srimansa Gadde ’26 takes a photo of a 4K marathon participant in the photo zone. Chloe Oakley ’25 and Phylicia Ren ’25 holds up the Central Texas SPCA 35 year anniversary photo frame.

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On Saturday, Oct. 21, the nonprofit Paw Plan teamed up with Austin Cooperation Act (CoACT) to volunteer at the Central Texas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (SPCA) annual Barktoberfest event. The Central Texas SPCA is a local nonprofit animal rescue and adoption center. 

Both Paw Plan and Austin CoACT are nonprofits founded and run by students at Westwood. Paw Plan’s focus is to connect students with volunteer opportunities at local animal shelters, while CoACT aims to provide relief to communities through service opportunities.  

“I was so excited to volunteer for the SPCA because it was my first time attending their Barktoberfest festival,” President of Paw Plan Phylicia Ren ‘25 said. “I loved that we were able to see the hard work that goes behind the scenes of an event like Barktoberfest. Additionally, I was excited about the variety of local businesses that were at the event. Everyone loved shopping at the stalls and getting the chance to support and talk to small business owners.”

Barktoberfest is Central Texas SPCA’s biggest fundraiser of the year. It features a wide array of activities and stations, from the 4K marathon to pet art stations. Local small businesses were also invited to host booths selling their items.

“I really enjoyed my time volunteering at Barktoberfest this year, especially because it’s so rare to have an opportunity to connect with the community like this,” Chapter Coordinator of Austin CoACT Isabella Shi ‘25 said. “Working at the pet art station, I loved meeting each owner and helping them make a token for their memories with their dogs. I also enjoyed talking with SPCA’s board members and hearing their journeys with serving the community.”

Members and officers of Paw Plan and Austin CoACT embraced the opportunity to help Central Texas SPCA staff prepare for activities, many arriving as early as 7 a.m. to volunteer. Volunteers helped by setting up booths for vendors, running a pet art station, and refilling water bowls for dogs. 

“My experience with volunteering for SPCA has always been amazing,” President of Austin CoACT Olivia Jung ‘25 said. “Volunteering through [the] SPCA was a great chance for me to help our neighborhood, which is one of the initiative goals of the Cooperation Act.”

Multiple activities took place, including a silent auction, pet adoptions, a photo booth, and a dog cheese-eating competition. The volunteers not only helped set up but also actively participated in the event by guiding guests to various booths and helping them through activities.

“I’ve volunteered a lot at SPCA, I’m practically an employee,” Andrew Zhang ‘25 said. “I like helping around there and especially hanging around with friends and the pets. Volunteer work itself is like any other but it’s always better with people you know.”

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About the Contributor
Sarah Jung, Reporter
Class of 2026
Hi I’m Sarah and this is my first year in Student Press. I enjoy art and listening to music. Few of my hobbies are painting, crocheting, and baking. I am passionate about graphic design and also very excited to be a part of Press!

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