Let me preface this article by saying if it’s your resolution to help animals in need, you’re in the right spot.
If you’re like me, your inbox is full of emails from charitable organizations that having subject lines like “Now Is Your Last Chance to Donate in 2011.” I am getting about a dozen of these every day from all different groups – all animal related of course. Whether it’s for guide dog support, shelter vaccinations, or donating to an adoption drive, each email has pulled my heart strings. But let’s face it: I’m broke. Or is it the apathy of knowing (really feeling like) I do more than most people do for animals, so I feel that I don’t need to do more?
Whatever it is, I can tell you this: while monetary donations are great, there are MANY other ways you can help animals in need.
Don’t get me wrong, before I start listing anything else, hear me out. Monetary donations allow the shelter to do many things other donations don’t allow, such as purchase equipment for the veterinarian, allow for needed structural or electrical upgrades and many other things that are definitely necessary.
But if you’re like me, struggling in this recession (I’ve had 6 jobs this year alone), let me give you some suggestions:
Common Household Items
Example: Bath towels
Say you’re remodeling, or even just updating, your bathroom or kitchen. Chances are you’ve picked out the new paint, you’ve scoured the furniture stores to find the right accessories and you’re all ready to start this new project. But where does all your old stuff go? The towels are a much needed item in a shelter. We use them to line cages, clean up messes, and to dry the animals after their baths. Many shelters don’t care what condition the towels are in. The shelter I volunteer at always washes incoming laundry before use, so you don’t even need to do that. My best friend, when she recently moved, decided she didn’t want to deal with bringing her towels from Chicago to New York City and brought a giant box of towels to a needy intercity shelter. The volunteers broke down in tears because towels were needed so badly there.
Note: Bedding also works. Extra blankets? Pillow cases? It all is the same.
So the brand new detergent came out and you just have to have some. For whatever reason it doesn’t smell right, doesn’t get out your heavy stains out or (worst case) you’re allergic to it. Well, you’re in luck. You have no idea how much laundry a shelter does every day. However, please always check with your local shelter because some do have restrictions on what they can accept (many don’t accept the powder soap).
Example: Copy paper
You just left the office supply store and the charming sales clerk talked you into buying about 100 reams of paper at “a really great price.” Well, you’ve just been duped. Sure, you can keep all of it, because we all know paper doesn’t expire, but think about how much paper a shelter goes through. Whether it’s printing out adoption contracts, fliers for upcoming events, or even just medical records, shelters go through a lot of paper.
I’ll revisit this topic in coming weeks to give you more easy examples of things most people have. I just don’t want you to feel depressed as you delete all those pleading emails. Everyone has something they can offer.