Humane Rescue Alliance

Advocating for animal-friendly communities. Strengthening the animal-human bond.

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Volunteer Projects

adoptable dog wearing HRA bandana

Humane Rescue Alliance

Offsite Volunteer Projects

Need SSL hours?

To receive a signature on student service learning (SSL) or other student service paperwork, carefully follow the instructions below. It is your responsibility to know if this project will be an accepted source of SSL hours. We cannot sign forms that assert we were physically present for your service.

  • Complete your SSL paperwork.  Leave only the signature area blank. Our EIN is 53-0219724.
  • Email your completed form to [email protected]. You may attach the form as a .pdf file or send us a picture of the form (png or jpg formats are most common for this and either works fine). Please include any deadlines, but allow us at least 48 hours to respond.
  • Place your items in a bag. Any type of bag is fine!
  • Write your First Initial and Last Name on the bag in permanent marker.
  • Leave your items in the clear bin marked “SSL Drop-Off” in the lobby of 71 Oglethorpe Street, NW, Washington, DC 20011. We are open Tuesday- Sunday, 12 – 7 pm.
  • We will return the form to you via email once we have verified the number of items you made and the hours donated are correct. Please understand we are very busy with our animals and potential adopters and cannot sign at time of drop-off.

Thanks for understanding that signing SSL forms is at staff discretion. We aren’t able to grant hours for items that were made improperly or will be unsafe for the animals. By following the above directions, you ensure your contribution will be of the maximum help to the animals.


The following projects can be completed offsite and delivered to our 71 Oglethorpe Street NW location upon completion. We are open Tuesday- Sunday, 12 – 7 pm.

We are currently most in need of wire cat teaser toys. Click the title of each project for instructions. These projects are listed in increasing order of difficulty, so scroll down to the bottom of this page for more of a challenge!

No-Sew Fleece Blankets for Cats and Dogs

SSL hours equivalent: 3 blankets = 1 hour

No sew blankets are easy to make and they keep our dogs and cats comfy and warm during their stay with us. You can make small ones for the cats and bigger ones for the dogs.

Throw and Tug Toys for Dogs

SSL hours equivalent: 2 toys = 1 hour

Dog rope toys are great for heavy chewers and for the dogs to play with while they wait to be adopted. Made from any old t-shirt and a tennis ball, these toys are interactive, durable, and machine washable.  Please be sure to make the braids nice and tight!

Catnip Pillows for Cats

SSL hours equivalent: 4 pillows = 1 hour

Use the t-shirt scraps left over from making the dog throw and tug toys to make these huggable toys our cats lick, kick, and enjoy for countless hours.  Catnip toys enrich the lives of the cats at our adoption centers.

Snuffle Mats for Dogs and Cats

SSL hours equivalent: 1 mat = 2 hour

It is no secret that dogs and cats have an amazing sense of smell and they want to use it!  These interactive mats allow our animals to sniff out hidden treats. Fun challenges like snuffle mats help keep our animals happy and engaged while in our care and, therefore, at their most adoptable. It’s so much more rewarding to hunt for your snack first!

WIre cat teaser toys

Uses sharp tools and materials—not recommended for children

SSL hours equivalent: 4 toys = 1 hour

This project may take a few more supplies and a little more skill to make, but the payoff is huge. Cats love these simple toys made of wire and twists of paper!  The movement of the pieces of paper at the end of a wire attracts a cat's attention and awakens their natural instinct to hunt.  Once caught and released, the paper springs back and bounces around erratically on the wire mimicking prey and making for hours of self-sustaining entertainment. Buy a similar toy here.

You will need:

  • Springy wire (.041”, .039”, or .037” diameter curved, steel musical wire works well)
  • Twisted paper (think of the handles of paper shopping bags) or paper straws
  • A thumbtack, large needle, or an ice pick to make holes in the pieces of rolled paper
  • Wire cutters or strong scissors to cut the wire
  • Needle-nosed pliers to secure a piece of paper at each end and prevent the wire from causing injury.


  • Cut the twisted paper into 1½-inch pieces. You will need 4- 5 pieces per toy.
  • Poke a small hole through the middle of each piece of twisted paper.
  • Cut the wire into 18-inch pieces. One per toy.
  • Thread 4- 5 paper pieces onto each wire.
  • Loop the wire around one piece of twisted paper at each end using the needle-nosed pliers.

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