Thanksgiving is right on top of us.  Which means it’s Christmas already.  In fact, it began just before Halloween.  Time to start your shopping and party planning.  And here we have a few suggestions on planning your Holiday events that benefit needy shelters and rescues.  

Christmas is fun and exhausting.  Imagine what the struggling animal organizations are going through this time of year.  Supplies are scarce.  Donations are down.  Volunteers and employees are struggling to get everything done in addition to scheduling in their own holiday celebrations.  Give ‘em a hand. 

Christmas is also exhausting for those employed who are so lucky to find out they have to handle the company holiday activities this year.  I’ll tell you right now, if it’s left to you to organize, do it your way.  And my way is to work in supporting local struggling rescues and shelters to this year’s activities.  I’ve compiled a list of different things to make it Happy Holidays for Homeless animals – OCCUPY style. 

And to get back at my boss.

Secret Santa of a Different Kind. 

Does your office do the Secret Santa thing?  You know, you pull a co-worker’s name from a bowl, buy them a gift, and present it to them at the office Christmas party.  You have no idea if they will like it.  Consider this alternative:

Find a local struggling rescue or shelter and get their wish list.  Put the wish list items in a bowl and have the office pick from those.  Bring them in on the day of your office party and invite some shelter/rescue representatives to join the fun.  They can transport the items back to their facility.  If they can’t attend, you can always let some employees deliver them.  This “variation on a theme” is bound to be appreciated by the recipients.

You can do the same for your local senior citizen housing center.  Obtain a list of homebound seniors that have animals.  You don’t need the names, just a count of dogs and cats living with their owners.  Assign 1 *family* to your employees and have them buy food and needed items for their pets.  Cellophane gift bags can be bought cheap at a local Dollar Store.  You can bag the items, decorate them holiday style and deliver them to the center. 

Donation Drive.

Have a donation drive.  Bags of food, kitty litter, rawhides, toys, collars and leashes are always needed.  Instead of the Secret Santa thing, collect donations for a local shelter/rescue and deliver them.  All you need to do is get ahold of the shelter/rescue wish list.  If your office already donates to a local food bank, you can expand the donations to include pet food and kitty litter.  Help struggling families keep their pets.  I don’t know of any food bank that turns away pet food and supplies.

And it doesn’t necessarily need to be food.  Other supplies are needed too.  Here is a short example of a typical rescue/shelter wish list:

Dry and canned dog and cat food.
Dry and canned kitten food.
Large and medium food/water bowls.
Durable dog/kitten/cat toys.  Kitty Litter.
Rawhides for dogs – all sizes.
Heating pads for infant animals.
Cleaning/kitchen supplies and air freshener spray, kennel cleaning supplies.
Scrub brushes, rubber curry brushes, mops, brooms, heavy-duty water hoses.
Laundry detergent, dishwashing gloves, baking soda, bleach, paper towels.
Blankets, bath towels (used or new).
Dog leashes and collars – all sizes.
Flannel baby blankets for kittens and puppies.
Paper towels & bathroom tissue.
Top-loading cat carriers.
Cardboard cat scratchers.
Ziplock food storage bags – all sizes.
Trash bags – all sizes.
Donations for special needs and veterinary bills.
Dog and cat sponsorships.
Foster homes for adult cats.
Forever homes for cats and dogs.
Gift cards to pet supply or home improvement.

Donate in behalf of your co-workers.

I work in an office that doesn’t really need to buy for each other.  Every year I do, but, this year is different.  Instead of getting them all a token something, I am taking the money I spend for each gift and giving it to a struggling rescue to feed their animals.  My co-workers will get a card from me stating that I have given to the rescue on their behalf with a picture of the animals they have helped feed.

Volunteer

Do anything for your local shelter or rescue.  Dog walk.  Pet the kitties.  Clean the kennels.  Foster an animal.  Take pictures for their website or Petfinder site.  Supply donations are great, but most of them can function better with a supply of two hands and two feet. 

OCCUPY for the Animals.

I emphasize giving to the struggling, grass roots shelters and rescues.  I can’t dictate to you who to donate to, but it’s the small organizations that need the most help.  Not the big ones like HSUS or ASPCA.  Don’t donate to their administration costs like hefty salaries and travel perks. 

If you can, buy from your local, independent farm stores and pet supply shops.  It’s the local “mom and pop” stores that need our business.  Not the big chain stores.  Many of them do give gift cards and certificates if you prefer to donate those. 

Spin off anything from the suggestions above.  The animals will feel better.  The shelter/rescue personnel will feel better.  You’ll feel better.  And it just might morph into an all year thing.

And I was only kidding about getting back at my boss.  CEOs love philanthropy.

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