A sibling squabble provided the impetus for a community service project at a Columbia County hotel, and the program proved so successful that it has expanded.
It started in 2008 when Kim Gibbons and her sister were debating what to get each other for Christmas. Both agreed the money would be put to better use by an animal-rescue group.
Thus started the Kibble for Kritters program, which involves using several area hotels as drop off points for pet food, toys and other pet supplies.
"The Kibble for Kritters program is so important," said Gibbons, sales and marketing manager for Best Western Evans Hotel in Grovetown. "We started it out with our Best Western in 2008, added our Baymont Inn and Suites last year, and this year we've added Americas Best Value Inn on Washington Road.
"The thinking is the more locations where people can easily drop off items, the better," she said. "We ask for not only pet food, but for basics like paper towels and trash bags."
CSRA Happy Tails Rescue, a network of volunteers who foster dogs and cats in their homes while they await adoption, is the recipient of the donated items.
"Kibbles for Kritters not only helps to bring awareness to the needs of animals seeking permanent, loving homes, but encourages caring residents to share food, treats and supplies," said Barbara Gleitsmann, president of Happy Tails. "This creative concept has truly made a difference, and we are grateful to be the recipients of the donations during this holiday season."
Gibbons added that many people have had to give up their animals for economic reasons.
"The number of cats and dogs at area shelters has increased over the last couple of years," said Gibbons. "This is why we continue to do the Kibble program each December."
Last year's donations were the largest to date, with 490 pounds of dry pet food collected. An additional 303 cans of food were collected, along with 100 pounds of cat litter and 156 pieces of linen from the hotels.
The linen is used as bedding for the animals. Pet toys, treats, leashes, collars, beds, paper towels, hand sanitizer and trash bags are also collected. Last year, gift cards and cash donations were also given.
"We're proud of our program and our partnership with CSRA Happy Tails Rescue and all our hotel staff members enjoy this project each December," said Gibbons. "Hopefully, this will be a banner year for our program and people will remember the critters in need this holiday season."
Donations are being accepted through the end of December at the Best Western Evans Hotel in Grovetown, Baymont Inn & Suites Augusta/Riverwatch and America Best Value Inn on Washington Road in Augusta.
For information about Kibble for Kritters, visit www.kibbleforkritters.com.
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