Actively spreading holiday joy with two community events meant to bring a paws-down successful season to the areas four-legged community members, Shepherd of the Valley has been busy with both a recent pet blessing, as well as an ongoing pet supply donation drive to assist in the care of shelter pets.
Held Wednesday, Dec. 5 at Animal Charity in Youngstown, what began as a simple plan to attend a local pet blessing turned into more of a brief college reunion for one attendee and the pastor on hand at the event.
"When I saw the information about the pet blessing in the paper," said Liz Smith, "I wondered if that was Jimmy Brandis. I just had to come and see if it was."
It turned out that it was indeed Brandis, now Pastor Jim Brandis, corporate chaplain for Shepherd of the Valley. Friends from their time at Thiel College, "It's been 40 years, but when she asked if I recognized her, I knew her right away," he said.
After catching up, Lola, Smith's dog; Blade, a Border collie mix; and Mosa and Mano, four-month-old Boxer/German Shepherd mix puppies; all the cats and dogs awaiting their forever homes at Animal Charity; as well as several other dogs brought to the shelter by their owners, enjoyed a special blessing courtesy of Brandis.
Shepherd of the Valley's Operation Santa Paws, now in its fourth year, is spearheaded by the facility's Poland community, and collects needed items for the dogs, cats, and other critters cared for by Animal Charity of Youngstown, Alchemy Acres Animal Sanctuary in Salem, and The Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County in Warren.
Beginning Nov. 19 and running through Monday, Dec. 17, donations are being accepted at all Shepherd of the Valley locations including: Boardman, Howland, Warren, Niles, Poland, and the At Home with Shepherd Home Health & Corporate Offices in Austintown, in addition to Copper Zone Tanning at the Southern Park Mall, and Pet Supplies Plus in Boardman.
Donation suggestions can be found on the SOV website at www.ShepherdoftheValley.com. Click on Quick Links and choose Community Events, or call 330-726-7110, ext. 0.
Hopeful for a repeat of past success, "Last year, the Southern Park Mall joined us in this project and we far exceeded our expectations," said Paula Blakeman, SOV-Poland activity director.
"The shelters were very pleased with the food, toys, and other items we were able to provide to them," Blakeman said.
Joined together in the spirit of the season, Shepherd of the Valley and its community has the chance to change the lives of many of the creatures great and small for the better with blessings from above and around them.