Hawthorne Elementary School first graders give gifts to the Mexico Animal Shelter each year as part of the Tyronn Lue Community Day of Service, collecting dog and cat food, along with pet toys and monetary donations. But this year’s presentation was especially poignant and exciting for the students and staff members. It was made in memory of Trevor Crum, a student who passed away earlier this school year.

Christi Flanigan is an animal control officer and supervisor at the animal shelter, located at 101 S. Morris Street. She said the amount of food and toys donated this year was a much larger than previous years. This is very likely down to Crum’s great love of animals and his pets.

“(He) always had conversations about animals on the playground and they’re always pretending to be animals outside,” Crum’s teacher Sarah Alton said. “When we would have share time, it was always a story about his weekend, and it always had something to do with one of his cats or something he wanted to do.”

The students raised $450 for the animal shelter through monetary donations and collected at least three times the amount of food and toys than previous years, Alton said. Students also toured the animal shelter facilities where they were able to see the dogs and cats available for potential adoption. For others who would like to adopt, the shelter can be reached at 581-0779 or mexicoanimal@yahoo.com.

“(Students) will come back to get pets each year,” Flanigan said. “They’ll go home after school and tell their parents about the pets they saw.”

The students are just excited to see the animals, she said.

Crum was always a happy student as well, Alton said, and even when he was upset, he was resilient and would quickly be happy again, as if happiness was his natural state

“Trevor was a very intelligent and outside the box thinker,” she said. “He was so creative, whether that was in an art standpoint, or even within the classroom with writing or problem solving.”

The most important thing to Crum was making sure his work was perfect was, she said.

“If he couldn’t do it perfect, he wouldn’t do it all, so he would wait patiently or wait for someone to come and help him,” Alton said.

She said Crum also was unique in the way he solved problems. It was a fascinating process to watch, Alton said, about how his mind worked. For teachers, she said, sometimes they can figure out what a student may do in the future just based on how they work through lessons.

“He was such a loving and caring student. He made friends easily. He gave five billion hugs a day because he wanted you to know he loves you,” Alton said, adding since she is pregnant he would not only give her a hug goodbye, but her baby a hug goodbye.

Crum also was something of a prolific artist. He would draw many pictures of his pets for himself and even for other students.

“On the first day of school, they were supposed to give their name and something about themselves, and his two facts were, 'I love orange and cats are my favorite animal,'” Alton said.

When Crum did pass, Alton said definitely there was sadness, but younger children interpret what death means in a much different way than adults or older students.

“(It’s) for numerous reasons — whether they don’t fully grasp what is going on, or because, I think, they find an easier way to be more positive and see the good things in a situation than adults do sometimes,” she said. “The stories that were shared about Trevor in the following weeks and the happy memories and the way they could just grasp positively to who he was as a person was really neat to see.”