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Sometimes kids so want to make a difference in the world and do something AMAZING – yet their age can get in the way.
Like many kids, my daughter is a HUGE animal lover.
She's in love with dolphins and whales (yet we live in the middle of the country). She loves to pet sit for our neighbors (which we do together). And she’s been asking to volunteer at an animal shelter for the last two years (but is not yet old enough based on their rules).
Since I hate to let that passion and desire to help others wane just because of a few rules, I am determined to find ways for her to be involved with animals.
Volunteer Project: Donating to an Animal Shelter
We have been a lucky family in that we've had two wonderful pets -- both dogs and both adopted from shelters.
Hobbes was my first baby and he was with us until he was 17 years old (yep, that's 119 in dog years ;) He's the tan guy in the photo and I nicknamed him "Dooman" - part dog, part human because he was so in touch with us and the kids.
Selena is approximately 14 years old and still with us although moving a little slower these days. She is my "glad we have her with a busy family" dog because she's a very independent soul who loves to be vocal when she needs us.
Don't even ask me what kind of dog they are -- no one has ever been sure and I know they're a mix. I just tell folks they are the most lovable pets you could ever have -- and all of our friends and family agree.
We talked about how my daughter might help the animals even if she isn’t able to volunteer directly at a shelter and collecting/donating much needed items for our local animal shelter seemed like a great hands-on project for her this fall!
And the timing was perfect too -- October is Pet Adoption Month so the shelter is gearing up for one of their big adopt a dog times!
We decided that the items for our donation would benefit the shelter where we adopted Selena since we adopted her 12 years ago this month.
Step 1: Research Your Local Shelter
Almost all shelters and rescue groups are always in need of items such as linen, cleaning supplies, treats and food. So we researched what was needed at our local animal shelter and pulled together a handful of items to donate.
Some shelters will have a list of much needed items on their website so be sure to check it out first. Some shelters will accept food donations and others have arrangements with pet food suppliers and would prefer non-food items.
Our local shelter is one that accepts food donations (and currently has quite a few pets staying with them so they were quite in need).
Step 2: Gather Your Donations
We picked up a HUGE bag of dog food during our trip to Sam’s this week since they too are getting involved with Adopt a Dog month. For every Pedigree dog product purchased at Sam's Club during the month of October, Pedigree will donate one bowl of dog food to local shelters as part of the #PedigreeGives campaign.
And by huge, I mean the 55 lb. bag of food! I needed my two big, strong guys to help out and get it on the cart! And the animal control officer was just floored when we wheeled in the bag (because there was no way I could carry it ;)
We also grabbed peanut butter, dog treats and some latex gloves (one of those always appreciated items). The peanut butter is used to help give dogs their medications and is put in the chewing toys dogs use in their kennels.
Then we scoured the house for old blankets, sheets and towels.
Linen items are used by shelters for all kinds of things – bathing, cleaning, extra bedding, as an extra layer of warmth in the kennels, etc. We accumulated quite a stack.
Step 3: Pack Up & Deliver
Once the car was packed, we headed over to the shelter. It's a good idea to call the shelter to find out when they can receive donations. For example, ours is closed during the lunch hour and would prefer donations be dropped off during the week when they have more staff on hand.
Be prepared to unload and carry in the items (big bag of dog food means rolling cart) -- I'm sure the shelter personnel will offer to help but there's so much to do with the animals that they're usually pretty busy.
This is a great project for kids of all ages and will help them understand how a small investment of time and effort can go a long way to helping others. It's also a wonderful project for any scouts or scout troops too!