Welcome back, everyone! These last few weeks we’ve taken a break from our normal Thursday service challenges. I hope you’ve all had a fantastic holiday season. Now we’re back with a new year … and a new service challenge! If you’re an animal lover (or an animal liker) … (or just an animal tolerate-er who wants to do something nice) … this challenge is for you.
The idea is simple: this week, we’re going to do something kind for an animal. Or for lots of animals. The ideas are endless, but I’m going to share a few of my favorite suggestions with you.
1. Find a wish list. We talked a bit about this when we did the Shelter Challenge a few months ago. If you don’t know where your closest local shelter is – well, that’s the magic of the internet. 🙂 Go to Google or Swagbucks, type in “animal shelter” and your zipcode, and a map should pull up showing you where your closest shelters are. Then give them a call, or look online and see if you can find a website. Find out what their wish list is and do a little shopping! Most shelters need everything you can think of that you might use for your own pet – food, leashes, toys, etc. There are usually items that you can get very inexpensively (especially if you use coupons), like cleaning products. And often there are things on the wish list that you won’t cost you any money at all. For instance, most shelters can always use old blankets and towels, and those with small animals need newspapers to line their cages. Even if you don’t have any of these items at home, ask around! Let your friends know you’re collecting newspapers and old towels to drop off to the animal shelter. Many people love the idea of helping – they just don’t know what the needs are. And one last idea – look for clearance! I have recently found pet toys and snacks marked down 70-90%, both in the pet aisle and in the clearance section. A pet won’t care if their new toy says “Merry Christmas” on it, and you this is a simple way for you to donate on a budget.
2. Volunteer. My local animal shelter has a long list of things that volunteers can do! Some of the activities were things that I expected, like grooming the animals and giving them some one-on-one attention. But there were other things that I had never thought of, like making follow-up phone calls and organizing fundraising events. Even if you don’t feel physically able to interact with animals (because of health limitations, allergies, or any other reason), if you want to help, contact your local shelter! Most depend heavily on volunteer work and would be happy to find a way for you to assist.
3. Advocate. If you have friends who might like to help, spread the word! Share this post with them. “Like” your local animal shelter on Facebook and invite your friends to do the same. Have a craft day and make toys to donate to your local shelter. Last month, my church hosted a Christmas party and I was asked to come up with a service project. We ended up doing this one – people brought their old shirts, then everyone worked together to cut them up and braid them into dog toys. It didn’t cost a penny!
4. Serve at home. If you own pets, what’s something extra-nice you can do for your own animal this week? My dog is mostly an indoor dog, but I know she’s still really bored with this cold snap we’re having. (This morning she went outside and headed to her water bowl … and it was frozen over. I wish I’d had a camera handy – her face was so funny!!) This week, I’m going to make a focused effort to give her extra love and attention. Because … and yes, I’m going to admit this to the whole world … I’m not really a dog lover. I like dogs. But getting one was not my idea. I gave in because my husband and daughter wanted one. But she is SUCH a good dog – she is so gentle and patient with my kids, and I know she would lay down her life to protect us in a heartbeat. I take that for granted sometimes and it’s easy for me to forget to give her the extra attention that she loves so much. So this week, Carlie, you’re going to get spoiled!
I hope I’ve given you an idea that you can get excited about today. I’ve set a few goals for myself this week, and I’m excited to come back and share them with you. What are you planning on doing this week to help an animal? If you have any more ideas for me, I’d love to hear them!