Pet Food Pantries in High DemandPublished December 7, 2010
Around this time last year, Randi Helpinstill, who lives in Yorktown, Virginia adopted two kittens. But sadly shortly after she adopted them, one of the kittens died of an infectious disease. Randi wanted the surviving kitten to have a playmate, so after she was sure that her kitten was purrfectly healthy, she started searching for another kitten on Craigslist in the "pet wanted" section. But according to a recent article in the Daytona Beach News Journal Randi was overwhelmed with the huge number pets needing homes due to today's dismal economy. Many pet owners could no longer afford to feed them and were forced to make the heart-wrenching decision to rehome them. After an hour of perusing the listings, Randi shut down her computer and turned to her husband, sharing her findings. But when one door closes, another one opens; it was then that she became inspired with what she refers to as her "light bulb moment." She thought, "Wouldn't it be nice if there was a food bank for pets just like there are for people?" Randi then began searching for information about how to start a pet food pantry and quickly learned that in response to the needs of many people, pet food pantries were opening across the country. A Colorado organization, The Pikes Peak Pet Pantry sent her information about how to get a local one started. With the help of her animal-loving neighbor, Geralyn Nelson, Randi spent the next eight months getting all the information she could find along with filling out all the paperwork necessary in order to become a legal, non-profit corporation -- and the Peninsula Pet Pantry was off and running. Randi said, "We could not imagine the heartbreak of people having to abandon their pets due to bad economic times, and the shelters were full, the rescues had waiting lists." Their mission, in Virginia's Newport News, York, Williamsburg, James City, and Hampton County is to provide temporary assistance with pet food and supplies to pet owners and caregivers who are suffering financial hardships due to today's economy. They also help homebound pet owners, small rescue groups and feral cat colonies. Commenting on this endeavor, Randi said, "The whole experience of building this operation has been one of the most rewarding opportunities in my life." But with their blossoming program comes the need for storage space, supplies, volunteers and donation in order for them to continue offering this crucial assistance. Events and distribution centers are constantly being updated on the pantry's website at penninsulapetpantry.org. And while donations are always appreciated, during the holiday season they are especially needed and of course, greatly appreciated. Anyone wishing to help may contribute by visiting their website. I think the concept of pet food pantries which can assist economically-stretched pet owners is a fantastic idea. What do you think? Is there one in your community? Leave a comment and share.