By Amy Schechter

The arts have seen a revival at Randall Middle School. After budget cuts in the county removed many electives, art is back, and Ragen Carpenter has found her home at Randall crafting an entirely new generation of artists. More surprising than the well of talent, she is impressed in another way: “Randall’s students have a lot of empathy that goes outside the classroom.” When she walked into Kim’s Natural Pet Foods and struck up a conversation with owner, Kim Albright, they decided they would partner to give back to the community.

Carpenter’s students in the 6th Grade Ceramic Club will sell bowls filled with pet treats to raise funds for foster animal families and families that cannot afford to pay for vaccinations. The students molded, designed, and painted their creations in an after-school art club. Then, Carpenter uses an on-site kiln to cure the finished products. The event on Saturday, May 6 will coincide with Kim’s Natural Pet Food’s monthly low-cost vaccine and prevention clinic. Held the first Saturday of every month, May 6 is not the clinic to miss. Students will be on-site for the fundraiser from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with the veterinarian available from 2-3 p.m. With no office visit fees, cat and dog owners can receive low cost vaccinations and testing. Heartworm tests, for example, are only $25, and if the test is negative, patrons can enjoy preventative treatment at cost at the event.

Carpenter says none of her projects could be done without generous grants from the Hillsborough County Classroom Initiative and the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. At the school level, the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) and specifically Principal Claire Mawhinney, are integral to the program’s success. Carpenter said, “Ms. Mawhinney has been so embracing. I want to highlight her devotion to the arts and let everyone know that Randall has an art program now.” Randall Middle as a whole remains intimately involved with Seeds of Hope as they collect food and other items for needy families and make the annual Turkey Trot medals.

To find out more information on the event, to partner with Randall Middle School’s Art program, or to make a donation, contact Ragen Carpenter at Kim’s Natural Pet Foods is located at 3110 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Valrico. The store number is 684-3663 and they are open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit or on Facebook at

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