FARMINGTON — Staff at the Farmington and Aztec animal shelters say their dogs, cats and other animals will sleep more comfortably this winter because of 11 Kirtland Middle School students.

The seventh graders, in the gifted program under Melissa Culler, dropped off food, blankets and other donations at the two shelters on Friday.

"I love it because exactly what we need is coming in," said Angie Arnold, Farmington Animal Services Supervisor. "We were really hurting for blankets. We need (them) all the time."

The class collected seven 25-pound bags of dog food, one 25-pound bag of cat food, 24 cans of cat food, blankets, towels, two bags of shredded paper, 16 food bowls, a 10-pound bag of Milk-Bones and a bag of rawhide chew toys.

"We basically tried and fill the shelter's wish list," Culler said. "It's was fun. (The project) was their idea."

The students took part in a community involvement program, Culler said. This year, the students chose to help animal shelters.

"It feels really good," said Aundrea Weaver, the class president. "It feels good to help them. We just decided to do a fundraiser for all the animals. They needed help."

The two shelters accept donations year-round, but representatives at both locations say winter's cold weather creates the most demand. Although the shelters heat the animals' kennels, the floors are concrete and can stay cold.

"It's super important for them," said Rosemary Boucher, support services secretary at the Aztec Animal Shelter. "We're keeping them healthy by keeping them warm."

Blankets, towels and old clothing continue to be the shelter's most needed items, she said.

"We always need donations, but it really picks up during the winter," Boucher said. "The impact is it's very comforting to know that our animals are warm. It's stress relieving for us. (Donations) have a huge impact on the animals and on the staff."

Community response was tremendous after a call for donations to the Aztec Animal Shelter went out, said Tina Roper, the shelter's director.

"I want to give a huge, tremendous thank you," she said. "The donations have just been pouring in. It's been fabulous. I've been so overwhelmed. It's been heartwarming. It's a huge help for my staff."

Donations to the Farmington Animal Shelter appear to be more sporadic, Arnold said.

The shelter still is in need of blankets, puppy food and puppy bathroom pads, she said.

Call 505-599-1098 or 505-599-1580 for more information on how or what to donate to the Farmington Animal Shelter.

Call 505-334-6819 to reach the Aztec Animal Shelter.