The Shepherd of the Valley drive, which runs from Nov. 14 through Dec. 19, is an effort to collect toys, food, bedding and other materials from the public that are needed by local animal shelters to assist in caring for the animals they take in.
Lynn Miller, corporate marketing director of Shepherd of the Valley said that the Poland branch looked to do a Christmas charity and understood that this time of year, many charities focus on less fortunate children, adults and seniors.
"They thought 'you know, nobody really thinks about the pets that don't have owners,' and so that's where they got the idea to take up a collection for one of the animal shelters," Miller said.
The drive was started by activity director Paula Blakeman and the staff in Poland, supported by the residents.
With its focus on local animals, the drive will benefit area animal shelters as Alchemy Acres Animal Sanctuary in Salem, Animal Charity of Youngstown and The Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County in Warren.
"The whole point is that anybody can help out with this because you don't have to spend a lot of money," Miller said.
Miller explained that those intending to donate can even look around their houses for supplies as old linens and sheets that can be used as animal bedding or save several weeks worth of newspaper that can be used for puppy accidents.
To kick off the drive, the Southern Park Mall, partnered with Shepherd of the Valley, held its Santa Claus pet photos from 2 to 7 p.m. Nov. 20 and accepted donations from the public. Those who made a donation received a coupon for a free Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich.
Miller said that a sizable amount of materials were collected as newspaper, a comforter, food and toys in addition to cash donations.
Those wishing to contribute to the drive can drop off donations at any of the Shepherd of the Valley locations in Poland, Niles, Howland and Boardman as well each of the shelters. Monetary donations as checks can be made payable to the individual shelter. As for the collection, Shepherd of the Valley staff will deliver the items on Dec. 20. The first two years that they put on the drive, the donations filled two vehicles when it came time to deliver. Last year, the Shepherd delivery truck had to be used. It was estimated that the donations went to several hundred animals.
For more information about Operation Santa Paws including the suggested donation list, call 330-726-7110 ext. 0 or visit ShepherdoftheValley.com and click on "Community Events."
Photo special to the Town Crier
Santa set up shop in the Southern Park Mall last week to see the four-legged youngsters during the kick-off of the Shepherd of the Valley collection for animals in area shelters. Santa is pictured here with Junior.