Three Surprising Things Your Local Shelter Needs

Okay, we all know that you can donate a bag of dog food or a cat carrier to the animal shelter, or that you can volunteer or foster, right? But the truth is, shelters can put a variety of items to good use, many of which have nothing to do directly with pets. I’m willing to bet you even have at least one item on this list lying around the house unused.

1. Blankets and Bedding:

If you’ve got an old sheet set from a mattress given away years ago, extra receiving blankets from your nephew’s arrival, or the puke green afghan Aunt Sally gave you for your wedding gathering dust, you’ve got a perfect donation for your favorite animal shelter. Concrete floors are no fun to sleep on, so shelters collect pet beds and blankets for the animals. Baby receiving blankets are perfect for most shelters’ cat cages. Larger blankets will be put in dogs’ runs, where they can sleep on them or play with them, providing enrichment as well as comfort. Crowded municipal shelters are particularly in need of bedding, because most pets won’t have a bed or toys unless some are donated.

2. Last Year’s Electronics:

Admit it: You buy a new digital camera at least every two years. The advancements in the technology are too great to resist.  Computers also become obsolete rapidly, at least if you’re using them heavily or for gaming. Printers, fax machines, and scanners are also replaced often. All of the above can be donated to an animal shelter when you upgrade to the newest model.

Many animal rescue organizations have a very limited web presence, if any at all. Listing pets on the internet can bring in both adopters and donations, with a very high return on a limited time investment, so why aren’t all shelters doing it? Lack of technology is one major reason. If you can provide one struggling shelter with a digital camera to load pets’ pictures onto Petfinder, you could save several pets’ lives who otherwise would not have found adopters.

3. Your Art or Crafting Talents:

Most animal shelters have at least one silent auction or raffle fundraiser each year. These events, which usually include dinner and sometimes live music, can bring in thousands of dollars in donations, while raising the organization’s visibility. You can’t have an auction or a raffle without some donations. That’s where you come in!

If you’re in a band, donate a few CDs– or better yet, a live performance for the winning bidder. Are you an artist? Donate a piece of your work. Do you knit? Provide a nice sweater for a raffle prize. Are you a massage therapist? Give a massage to a lucky winner.

Your talents and hobbies don’t need to have anything to do with pets in order to help your favorite animal rescue with its fundraising events. I once, as a young teen, donated a pastel painting of two horses to a silent auction for a horse rescue. The piece fetched over $1,000, a price that nobody before or since has ever even considered paying for a piece of amateur art by yours truly! When donors are having a great time at an event, you never know which item will end up bringing in megabucks for a worthy cause.

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