PALMETTO -- Two years ago, the Youth Group at My Father's House went on a field trip to Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto.
After a tour of the facility, the church youth were so impressed and touched by the need to supply guide dogs for the blind, they decided to raise funds to sponsor a puppy, specifically for a blind veteran.
For the last two years, the congregation has been saving money to make their dream a reality.
The church was finally able Nov. 10 to invite a representative of Southeastern, Nicholas Olson, to come with his ambassador dog Bobby, and give a presentation of the work the group does. "We were elated to be able to provide a check for $3,800 to sponsor a Paws for Patriots puppy," said Pastor Anne Barber.
The church youth will name the puppy, and follow it through the approximately two years it takes to train a puppy to become a guide dog.
"At the end of this time, the congregation will be invited to the dog's graduation when it is officially presented to its new owner," Barber said. "Hopefully the veteran who eventually receives this dog will be able to bring it to our church for a final send off.
"We wish we could do as Jesus did and heal blind eyes by saying 'receive your sight' (Luke 18:42). Until that day, we can do the next best thing for a blind person, and that is through sponsoring a guide dog, we can hand him or her a furry friend who will love them unconditionally, and be their eyes."
Information: Southeastern Guide Dogs, 941-729-5665 or go to guidedogs.org.