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A family dinner led to a fundraising and collection movie event held at Edmond Town Hall on September 21 to support animals and their owners affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Sitting down at dinner one night, mother Elvia, father David, and daughter Colette Burke were talking about people recently affected by both hurricanes.
Ms Burke said the family moved to Newtown from just outside New Orleans, and they had evacuated the New Orleans area in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Ms Burke said she and her daughter, a seventh grader and Girl Scout, began talking about doing something to “pay it forward,” reflecting on the support shared with Newtown following the events of 12/14.
Ms Burke said she got on the phone, and a couple of days later she was put in touch with the Petfinder Foundation.
“It took off from there,” Ms Burke explained, standing in the gymnasium at Edmond Town Hall as the fundraiser was underway.
The “Paying It Forward” fundraising event supported both the Petfinder Foundation, based in Tucson, Ariz., and North Padre Watch, based in Corpus Christi, Texas. The proceeds will go to the Petfinder Foundation and the items collected will go to North Padre Watch, a nonprofit organization, to assist its efforts for disaster relief for the pets of Houston and surrounding areas after Hurricane Harvey. Petfinder is also working with Florida in its relief efforts, according to a release for the event.
The Petfinder Foundation is a nonprofit public charity that works to prevent the euthanasia of adoptable pets by assisting animal shelters and rescue groups across North America, and its grant programs are designed to make homeless pets more adoptable by keeping them happy and healthy, to make shelter operations more sustainable, and to aid adoption groups during times of natural or man-made disaster, according to its website, petfinderfoundation.com.
Activities for the event were set up in the gymnasium at Edmond Town Hall and a screening of the movie Hotel For Dogs was shown in the building’s theater.
Volunteers oversaw different activity stations. C.H. Booth Library Acting Director/Assistant Director Beryl Harrison and volunteer Lakshaanya Saravanan oversaw a table where participants could make dog toys by braiding strips of old T-shirts together. Another station had participants crafting catnip toys for cats, and at another, children made and signed cards. Lori Erikson of Loricakes also offered baked goods for sale to help raise funds. Some members of Girl Scout Troop 50512, Colette’s troop, also volunteered their time at the event by helping Ms Burke direct people as they arrived or by overseeing stations.
Two large signs were also printed for the event. One will be sent to the Petfinder Foundation thanking the group for helping “our fellow animals in need,” and one will be sent to the North Padre Watch thanking the group for helping “our fellow man in times of need.”
Author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor also offered signed copies of her book, Shiloh, to be raffled off at the event.
Following the event Ms Burke said roughly $1,000 was raised through donations. People who could not attend the event can support both organizations, Ms Burke said, with donations through the petfinderfoundation.com or through the northpadrewatch.com websites.
Petfinder Foundation Chief Development Officer Emily Fromm said after the event that there is a desire to support animals affected by the recent hurricanes.
“We are just so moved that a family was doing all this work to rally their community to help animals in a community on the other side of the country,” said Ms Fromm.
Money from the event, Ms Fromm said, will support shelter staff working overtime, supporting any “shuffling” of pets needed to find open shelters, and helping to supply shelter animals with needed vaccinations and other care.
“I want to let everyone know everything they have done will be put to good use,” said Ms Fromm.