We are in the midst of a shelter makeover. After 10 years of thousands of animals coming through our doors, we sure needed it! We don’t have a lot of money to spend on extras, nor too many extra people floating around with extra time and energy to do the work. And kitten season NEVER waits for anything or anybody.
Mother Nature does her thing, and we had to do our thing. So, the Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART) teamed up with Disney’s “Give a Day, Get a Day” program where community members volunteered to work in exchange to earn a free ticket to get inside any of Disney’s theme parks! Did you know that to buy a ticket to get inside the gates to this wonderland vacation is $97 per person, from ages 10 and above, and $87 for the younger crowds?
Even though the program has officially ended, this was a great opportunity to give back to the community, and volunteer your time to help with many of the tasks that need to be done inside and out of the HART adoption shelter. Within 10 weeks of signups, Disney reached their goal of 1 million committed volunteers, and we think half of them came through us!
We were so busy fielding emails and calls and scheduling people to work, that we had to get outside help! We had a choral group from the grammar school, various groups of Cal Poly students, people from all over the county, and even a group of 20 guys from Vandenberg Air Force Base! People who did sign up online by March 5 are still working off their hours with us, and so many have told us they have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It makes them feel good to know they have helped make a difference. They have sure made a difference for us!
HART listed 10 great volunteer opportunities to choose from, in exchange for helping our rescued animals. Disney asked us to come up with things even a 6-year-old could do, so I had to be creative and, of course, safe. Most of my ideas were family events which included a variety of things, both in and out of the shelter. Some of these were “Shop for the Shelter,” where families stood out in front of a store of their choice and gathered pet supplies by handing out our wish list (that was a favorite!),
or setting up a table at the Cambria Farmers Market, or helping care for our cats at Petsmart, or afternoon shelter help with laundry and other cleaning.
The adults cleaned out sheds, washed walls, painted rooms, organized drawers and cupboards and are still helping us get ready for kitten season lurking right around the corner. Some will help with our rummage sale coming up on April 10 and 11, and others will get our grounds cleaned up and mowed down for the event.
This program has really taken off for us—nothing like a little bribery, I guess! While this great incentive did help us, the whole point of the program was to inspire people to be proactive and make positive changes in their communities. The HandsOn Network, which set this up for Disney, is an international nonprofit organization whose core mission is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes communities for the better. Their vision is that every person will discover their power to make a difference, creating healthy communities. It’s all about celebrating the everyday heroes who serve in their communities to make it a better world for all of us.•••
Don’t forget HART’s rummage sale, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 10 and 11! Now collecting good stuff to sell!
Diana Duncan, president of the Homeless Animal Rescue Team, can be reached at the HART adoption center in Cambria at 927-7377, or send questions to email@example.com. The HART Web site at www.slohart.org has information about lost and found pets and links to other animal welfare sites.