A volunteering story by: Jicole Martinez

A friend and myself put together a pet food donation at our work to help feed homeless and less fortunate animals over the holidays. We would pass out fliers and let all of out clients know that any food, or animals supplies were needed for the less fortunate over the holidays. We started stapling fliers we made to our receipts at the end of our appointments. We helped raise awareness on not only helping people less fortunate but also their pets. We set our goal to 500 lbs of dog food and 250 lbs of cat for our challenge to raise that amount of food. We had several clients bring in multiple loads of dog food and supplies. When the Trash buckets we set out for collection of food were to get full we would use a card to weigh the food and bring it to our room that we were storing the food at until time to send it to the pet food pantry. We had a very good turn out for food and supply donations. We had so much food we had to make 2 trips to fit all of it to bring to the donation center. We ended up with a huge variety of foods for different ages and lifestyles. I found out even people down on their luck that do have homes are elgible to receive pet food. We were told by many that they go hungry sometimes to feed their pets. Many of our clients were happy to donate food their pets didn’t like and not to waste the food. There were also lost of food donated by owners who had lost their pets over the year. When an animal passes away having their belongings and food around is sometimes painful. Many owners found an outlet to give to other pets by donating their deceased animals belongings knowing that they will help another pet in need once again.

The Inspiration

My friend Lexi Inspired me as I had never worked in Sacramento before and I lived in El Dorado hills about 40 minutes away from our job that we were putting gone the pet food donation drive. Lexi explained to me about the pet food pantry, I had previously unknown about this community asset. I began to really appreciate the concept since I know many homeless people or less fortunate people have pets that they hold very close to them for companionship. Many people admitted to scrounging for food to not feed their hungry stomachs but to feed their pets. Many times this was fast food that is not healthy for animal stomachs and can also make them sick. It was sad to hear the stories that they beg for money to spend it on dog food. I became involved to help get food and supplies donated because I saw what that so many people were in need of help even if it was just dog or cat food. Providing adequate nutrition to the animals that need nourishment is pretty rewarding. We had our building in a lower income area, Many times people come in with no shoes, worn clothing and a dog at the end of a rope. Seeing it first hand opened my eyes even wider to the need for pet food donations to help out those needing to feed their companions on the street. Many times the dogs help keep their owners warm and protect them at night. With having the pet pantry located downtown Sacramento where many homeless and people in need live, I think it helps those who are in need keep their pets because they have a way to feed them. The Pantry supplies thousands of lbs of food year to those in need.

The Aha! moment…

I learned that so many people are in need of pet food. Sounds simple but with the economy in the dumps, pet food prices increasing and many people without transportation to get pet food and get it home can be challenging. I personally can reflect on this in a wider view as I had become Homeless, Unemployed and super tight on money with 3 dogs to feed. I battled with asking for help to help feed my 3 large dogs. One of my dogs was going through 18 cups of dry food alone a day! I fully understand and appreciated programs that help the community and friends who helped provide food for my fur kids. I am a little better off currently but still Pet food is my biggest cost that I struggle for. I learned that so many people can benefit from the donated pet food. Many times we are down on our luck and 90% of us don’t plan for it either. It can become very depressing when not being able to afford your pets food. I became so stressed out when funds were short and was looking for help to feed my dogs. It was very inspiring to be working in a rough area and so many people helped to donate pet food and supplies for the holidays. I believe we raised about over 700lbs of dogs food and 400lbs of Cat food. We also had leashes, collars, cat litter, toys donated that we took to the local animal shelter to help out for the holidays.

To summarize it in three words…

  • Contribute, Share, Compassion

Why should you do this

I recommend people find something that is important to them and to give back by volunteering some how. Helping people doesn’t always have to be 1st hand. While donating food to charities for humans and pets helps to feed those that hungry, there are other ways to help volunteer. You can walk or run for a cause, the entry fee’s are usually donated to the charity of choice. You can volunteer to clean up trash etc. there are so many outlets to involve yourself in to help others. Find something that interests you and guaranteed there is an opportunity to help others with that interests.

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