ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. -

Sixth grade students at Branch Elementary School outside Arroyo Grande got their first glimpse of a service dog that was purchased through money they helped raise during the school year. The yellow lab named Remmy will help Philip Vaughan, a 17-year old from Nipomo with Down syndrome.

Vaughan has Type 1 diabetes and needs constant adult supervisors to make sure his blood sugar level remains steady. The diabetic alert service dog, which uses smell to detect fluctuating blood sugar levels, will allow great independence for Vaughan.

Helping to raise the money for the costly service dog were the students in Cheryl Little’s sixth grade class. Little has implemented a community service project for her students over the past 18 years. This year, her class chose to help the Vaughan family, which could not afford the service dog that cost around $18,000.

“It's hard to teach altruism. You have to feel it, you have to feel what it feels like to give and help and make those connections in the community and to make those connections with people and these people will be life long friends,"  said Little.

Over the past school year, students collected month through a variety of ways. Students solicited funds from community service groups to local business, from raffles to sales of candy and popcorn. In total, the kids helped raise $17,607.