Christmas Eve is special to many people for multiple reasons. Last year we held an event, Presents for Paws, which was the first community outreach event held at the Allegany County Animal Shelter after the resignation of the former shelter director. It was such a powerful experience, knowing that although the animals inside may not be home for Christmas; however, they were safe from being killed, and would be given the homes they all deserved. We wanted to carry that spirit on and start a tradition, and this year’s Presents for Paws event was an inspiring display of community support.
We asked the community to come out and support the ACAS by donating food, toys, treats, cleaning supplies, bleach, kitty litter, etc. Animals would be available for adoption, and volunteers were welcomed to walk dogs, love on kitties, help clean and feed our homeless love bugs. At the end of the day, raffles tickets with the names of donors and volunteers who helped were drawn for prizes including a Kindle, digital camera, web camera, a crock pot, and baskets that were donated by several individuals and businesses.
Even before the official start of the event, the supporters of the ACAS spanning across 3 states started showing up with donations, giving their time, and having their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. It was a packed house, and at the height of visitations, parking was a half a mile down the street. Children came out and donated their very last dollar to help the cats and dogs. Parents were rolling up with items from the wish list, and Beiderlack came out to donate 100 blankets! By the end of the day over 3 tons (YES 3 TONS!!!) of food, bleach, litter, and supplies were donated to the shelter, the donation jar was full, and the awe inspiring event found the homes for 7 lucky animals!
Many attendees posted their pictures and experiences on Facebook. I’d like to share one of my favorites from Dave Williams.
“Did those brave first champions and overworked early volunteers do the right thing????? Ask these folks as they trek in from the outlying parking spots.”
At one point throughout the day, I was walking a woman and her daughter through the cat room, discussing which cat would be a good fit in their home. In my heart, I was yearning for a long term cat resident, Pooh Bear, to be chosen. He had been in the shelter for a year. As the woman reached into Pooh Bear’s cube to scratch him on the head, he licked her in thanks. It was love! Pooh Bear was going to finally go home! As I stood teary-eyed across the room in the front lobby while they were completing the adoption paperwork, the woman looked over to me and whispered, “Thank you”. I softly whispered back, “Thank you!!!”