A new volunteer project in Vermont is aimed at supporting locals who are struggling with the costs of feeding their pets.
“It’s been great to see people come together and drop food off,” said Linda Groce, the co-organizer of the Pet Food Pantry in Rutland.
This month, Groce and a friend, Theresa Jones, started gathering pet food donations to supply to animal lovers living on low incomes — including senior citizens on fixed budgets.
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“A lot of seniors, that’s all they have is their pet, so they need the help,” Groce said.
Groce added that with household bills climbing from home heating costs during Vermont’s long winters, this was the right time for the project.
Roger Louiselle came by the Pet Food Pantry on Woodstock Avenue Friday morning on behalf of the Rutland Community Cupboard to pick up a trunkful of pet food, which the cupboard will redistribute to its clients.
“Sometimes, they feed their animals before they feed themselves,” Louiselle said of people who use the Community Cupboard, which supports people struggling with hunger.
Since some of the cupboard’s clients are also pet owners, Louiselle turned to Linda Groce’s new Pet Food Pantry to make sure those animals don’t also struggle.
“We really appreciate Linda collecting this food, especially this time of year,” said Louiselle, a volunteer for the Rutland Community Cupboard.
Andrea Cunningham works with a nonprofit called The Feline Connection, which finds foster families and medical care for homeless cats. Her group received some of the donated supplies.
“It’s going to make a huge impact,” Cunningham predicted of the donations from the Pet Food Pantry. “It’s a great community.”
The Pet Food Pantry is just temporary, running until late January.
However, Groce does hope to bring it back in the future, assuming space is available. She also said she plans to spotlight other opportunities to donate to organizations helping animals in need year-round.
“There’s a lot of animal lovers here,” Groce observed of the Rutland area.
The Pet Food Pantry will be open until supplies run out or until Friday, January 24, Groce said.
It is located at 144 Woodstock Avenue in Rutland, not far from Rutland High School. The pantry is open Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m., and Tuesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. However, it will be closed on New Year’s Eve, Groce noted.
Donations can be made to the facility during those hours. Alternatively, donations may be dropped off to the LaValley Building Supply store on 48 Windcrest Road in Rutland, where Groce works.
The best time for drop-offs to the LaValley store are Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Groce said.