The Presents for Pets idea began as a holiday supply drive to benefit the animals at the local shelter in Pickens County, GA in 2014. Susan Catton, an animal lover, rescue volunteer and fundraising enthusiast, painted boxes in holiday colors that said, “Dear Santa Paws”. A supply “Wish List” was attached as well as tear-off shopping lists. Susan placed multiple boxes in local stores and the response was better than expected as people gave generously. All items were new and were purchased at the stores, proving to be a win-win-win for all. Two years passed and it was time to try it again in 2016. This time only two boxes were placed, both at the local Walmart store. Those boxes were designated to benefit the dogs and cats at Pickens Animal Rescue. Again, the response by the community of animal loving shoppers was incredible and the boxes had to be emptied multiple times throughout the month of December.
Fundraising for non-profits is a challenge and many organizations lack in Volunteers comfortable with asking for donations. Businesses in smaller communities are especially stretched to the limit in their ability to financially donate to all the areas of local need. Susan felt that by “bringing it to the people” where people shop made the act of giving more convenient and personal as well. By supplying a list of needed items and with the opportunity to also choose something fun, such as a toy or treats, adults and kids could enjoy the feeling of doing something good for the homeless pets.
Knowing that it took time, materials and energy to not only paint the boxes but also convince local retailers to allow them to be placed in their stores, Susan began to design a giving program that could make it easier for other Volunteers to do the same. Following the adage from the 1989 film, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come”, as well as the highly successful Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots Program, these also helped inspire the creation of Presents For Pets donation program.
The 2019 holiday season is the projected launch of the Presents For Pets program. It will begin as a local and regional program first with expansion to be determined by the success of the first groups to use the donation containers. It will also be determined by the financial Donors and Sponsors that can be obtained now and in the future. On behalf of homeless pets in need and the people who are caring for them while they await their forever homes, we thank you for your support.