Church youth doing their part to help pets


When people are in need, their pets often need support as well, such as for food when a person is unemployed. Humane Ohio has a pet food bank to meet that kind of need, and the youth of Toledo's United Methodist Church of St. Andrew are holding their fourth annual Pets in Poverty Fair/Food for Friends event in the church's parking lot Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at 3620 Heatherdowns Blvd.

The youth collect pet food during the fair. It doesn't matter what kind of pet, church youth director Rod Pierce said, “bird or cat, snake, dog.” And it doesn't matter what type of food, either: wet or dry, “absolutely anything; snacks, treats whatever is for the pets is fine. We take it all.”

The collection ambition is sizable. Last year they took in more than 3,000 pounds of food, but, Mr. Pierce said, since Humane Ohio goes through 7,000 pounds a month, he'd like the fair to reach that number. “I don't know that we'll get there,” he said, but “every year is an incremental. Last year we did 1,000 pounds more, so that's been a blessing.”

Speaking of blessings, St. Andrew's pastor, the Rev. Laura Bensman, will be present to bless the pets.

The youth arrange tables for pet-related concerns ranging from the Lucas County Dog Warden and other pet adoption organizations which will bring animals children can play with, to the Pet Supplies Plus stores, to Scoop-It, a company that cleans up animal waste in yards.

Then, to help in attracting donations and to provide a fair atmosphere, they offer hot dogs and sodas, bounce houses and face painting, and other attractions, including Sheltered Reality, “a Christian-based youth drum corps,” Mr. Pierce said, which will perform at 2 p.m.

Dog and cat food is collected at the annual Pets in Poverty fair at the Church of St. Andrew.
Dog and cat food is collected at the annual Pets in Poverty fair at the Church of St. Andrew.

Pets in Poverty/Food for Friends started as the result of a challenge to a previous St. Andrew pastor from his church conference to bridge a gap between the church's youth and people in poverty, Mr. Pierce said. From Mr. Pierce's own experience at the time, having been laid off and needing to feed his dog, Snickers, the pet food collection idea started. Now the minister has moved to another church, which has started a similar fair, and Mr. Pierce thinks it would be nice for the idea to move through the larger church.

People don't have to actually buy bags of food, though that is welcome. They can make financial donations. “We have three or four different selections of food bags,” Mr. Pierce siad, “three-pound, five-pound,” and up, “we set them on a table and give people the opportunity to either write a check or put some cash to buy it,” then before the fair closes Mr. Pierce will take the money and buy food to add to the pile at day's end.

For those who can't make it on Sunday, the church will accept donations during office hours, or people can give the food directly to Humane Ohio at 3131 Tremainsville Rd.

Contact TK Barger @, 419-724-6278 or on Twitter @TK_Barger.