By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON November 26, 2002 Molly Roybal-Goch doesnt want cats and kittens to be left out in the cold this winter.
At 11 years old, the Cochecton youth is already responsible for some pretty hefty projects.
Roybal-Goch put together Sundays Compassion Day at the Delaware Youth Center almost single-handedly.
She lined up speakers from folks who read poems on peace to some environmentally friendly advocates. She asked area activists to set up booths around the center, ranging from anti-war issues to animal rights.
And she garnered support from local artists who donated some of their pieces for an art auction to benefit the Childrens Animal Rescue Team (CART), a 4-H group dedicated to rescuing stray cats, having them spayed or neutered and adopting the kitties out.
Were a bunch of kids, Roybal-Goch said. But were a very serious bunch of kids.
Im very, very proud of what we can do.
There were folks milling about the youth center Sunday afternoon interested in finding out more about the childrens Compassion Day.
According to Roybal-Goch, the day is dedicated to compassion for animals, humans, the environment.
With Thanksgiving less than a week away and the holiday season already in full swing, the children felt now would be the perfect time to introduce area residents to their ideas.
A general goodwill toward man is at its height around the holidays, and with winter coming, Roybal-Goch said, people have to be on the lookout for animals in need.
There are just too many cats and theyre making more, she said. But most of these cats arent going to make it through the winter.
Thats where the Childrens Animal Rescue Team (which theyre trying to add the word Rights to) comes in.
A group of about nine children, most of them home-schooled, get together and help raise money to have cats spayed or neutered. The project started with Sue Hoffman, mother of 10-year-old Beth and 13-year-old Andy of Bethel.
A Meals on Wheels driver, Hoffman was noticing a lot of her elderly clients had dozens of cats around their homes, propagating at a rapid rate each time she returned.
So she offered to trap the critters, have them fixed and find good homes for the majority of the animals.
According to Hoffman, her kids got involved shortly thereafter. Along with a group of friends, they formed their 4-H group, which Roybal-Goch joined recently.
Its a program Hoffman fully supports.
I think its a great lesson for the kids to learn, she explained. I think its great what theyve done.
The kids have teamed with the Mobile Spay-Neuter Coalition, which drives from Middletown to Monticello fixing cats.
Now CART can offer grants to people who want to take the stray cats in their neighborhood to get them ready for a new home. The cost, Roybal-Goch said, is about $40 per cat for the process, and folks can write to CART for help.
The focus is felines, Beth Hoffman said, because there really isnt a problem with dog colonies in the area.
Cats reproduce like rabbits, Roybal-Goch added. Did you know that over six years, a mother and her kittens can produce 42,000 cats?
Were trying to make a good thing out of a bad situation.
Compassion Day was the childrens way of getting the word out about what they can offer the community, while bringing folks together to remind them that winter is approaching.
Its in the midst of hunting season, Roybal-Goch noted. Winters coming, and some of these cats arent going to survive.
And its the weekend before Thanksgiving people are more compassionate.
To get involved or for more information about CART, write to P.O. Box 37, Callicoon, NY 12723. All donations are tax-deductible because the program falls under the auspices of 4-H.