12/25/11 — Drive nets thousands of pounds of pet food

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Drive nets thousands of pounds of pet food

By Gary Popp
Published in News on December 25, 2011 1:50 AM

Dogs and cats across Wayne County are feeling the joy of the holiday season thanks to the good will of community members who supported the Holiday Pet Food Drive, organized by employees of Prudential The McMillen Real Estate Group.

In its third year, the food drive collected an unprecedented amount of pet food to donate to the Wayne County Humane Society -- nearly 2,400 pounds in just 30 days.

The pet food and other goods collected, which included toys, treats, pet bedding and crates, were handed over the Humane Society for its December distribution.

Every month, the organization distributes pet food to pet owners looking for a little help in meeting the needs of their four-legged friends.

The food is purchased with money generated through fundraisers and through private donations.

Humane Society volunteers said the winter months are when they have the least amount of food to distribute due to a drop in donations.

This precarious predicament for pets and their owners is why two broker associates with Prudential The McMillen Real Estate Group, Jeri Lynn Coker and Nancy Connolly, organized the Holiday Pet Food Drive at the business's North Berkeley Boulevard location.

This year's food drive was a big success, Ms. Coker said, with donations nearly tripling from the collection last year.

She said that her and Ms. Connolly's motivation to host the food drive stems from their love of animals and a desire to see animals remain in their homes despite the tough economy.

"The first place where people make cuts during the holiday season is their pets," Ms. Coker said. "We both have known people who have given up their animals."

She also said they want to help animals stay healthy in the homes of those who might not always have the money to properly care for them.

"Some people would starve these animals unintentionally just so they could keep their pets. We don't want that to happen," Ms. Coker said.

She said there was so much excitement surrounding Prudential's Holiday Pet Food Drive that some people asked to have photographs taken with their pet posed with the large collection of donated goods.

Ms. Coker said she and Ms. Connolly are appreciative of the support that the community has shown for the food drive, but they hope to generate even larger numbers in coming years.

"Our long-term goal is to donate enough food to see that the Humane Society has enough food for several months," she said.

Wayne County Humane Society president Gary Rollins said it is a great feeling to receive such a large amount of support.

"It has been a blessing," Rollins said. "It makes it easier to have more drop-off spots, even for a short period of time."

Rollins said the Humane Society will typically distribute about 4,000 pounds of pet food each month to help meet the needs in Wayne County. In November, 175 households showed up at the distribution center to receive pet food, he said.

Rollins said those on the receiving end of the monthly distributions include people from low-income households, the elderly and those who have trouble getting out of their homes.

"For some people, their dog or cat may be the only living thing they see on most days," he said.

Rollins said the effort to help people keep their pets is dear to his heart, and that all the organization's volunteers know the value of animal companionship.

The Humane Society's distribution takes place from 2 to 3 p.m. every third Sunday of the month at Carolina Mini Storage on Berkeley Boulevard.